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OCT 22 198^ 
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, , 

DIVISION OF International law 


Lav Library 

Pamphlet No. 23 





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Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 


Pamphlet No. 23 






On December 12, 1916, the Imperial German Chancellor, von 
Bethmann-HoUweg, delivered an address in the Reichstag in which he 
stated the vi^illingness of the German Empire, under certain conditions, 
to consider the question of peace with its enemies. In the same speech 
the Chancellor read to the Reichstag the text of a note which the Im- 
perial Government had submitted, through certain neutral Governments, 
for consideration by tlie Entente Powers. An identical note was like- 
wise submitted on the same date, through the same channels, by Ger- 
many's allies. The Entente Powers, by way of reply to these over- 
tures, stated in similar official form the conditions upon which they 
would consider the question of peace with their enemies. Certain 
neutral Powers took advantage of these expressions of the respective 
belligerents to set forth their views as to the international situation. 

It has been thought advisable at this time to collect the various 
official statements, and to issue them for convenience in a pamphlet, 
arranged in chronological order but without expression of individual 
opinion or commentary. The documents themselves have been taken 
from official sources whenever available. 

James Brown Scott, 
Director of the Division of International Law. 
Washington, D. C, 
February ip, ipiy. 



Extract from the Speech of Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg in the 

German Reichstag, December 12, 1916 1 

Peace Note of Germany and her Allies, December 12, 1916 3 

Note of the German Government to the Vatican regarding the Peace Pro- 
posals, December 12, 1916 4 

Austrian Official Statement regarding the Peace Proposals, December 12, 
1916 6 

Extracts from the Speech of Premier Briand in the French Chamber of 

Deputies, December 13, 1916 7 

Russian semi-official Statement regarding the German Peace Proposals, 

December 14, 1916 9 

Extract from the Speech of Nicolas Pokrovsky, Russian Minister for Foreign 

Affairs, in the Duma, December 15, 1916 11 

Resolution of the Russian Duma against acceptance of the German Peace 
Proposals, December 15, 1916 13 

Speech of Arthur Henderson, unofficial Alember of the British Cabinet, 
London, December 16, 1916 14 

Extract from the Speech of Baron Sonnino, Italian Minister for Foreign Af- 
fairs, in the Chamber of Deputies, December 18, 1916 15 

President Wilson's Peace Note, December 18, 1916 16 

Extracts from the Speech of Lord Curzon in the House of Lords, December 
19, 1916 19 

Extracts from the Speech of Premier Lloyd George in the House of Com- 
mons, December 19, 1916 22 

Extracts from the Speech of Former Premier Asquith in the House of 

Commons, December 19, 1916 28 

Speech of Bonar Law, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the House of 
Commons, December 21, 1916 29 

Swiss Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 23, 1916 32 

Swiss Peace Note in support of President Wilson, December 23, 1916 33 

German Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 26, 1916 34 

Austro-Hungarian Reply to President's Wilson's Peace Note, December 
26, 1916 35 

Turkish Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 26, 1916 36 

Austro-Hungarian Reply to the Swiss Peace Note, December 27, 1916 36 

German Reply to the Swiss Peace Note, December 28, 1916 37 

Scandinavian Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 29, 1916.. 38 

Entente Reply to the Peace Note of Germany and Her Allies, December 30, 
1916 ; 38 

Bulgarian Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 30, 1916 42 

King Constantine's Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 30 

1916 : ; 42 

vi Contents 


Spanish Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 30, 1916 43 

Declaration of Premier Radoslavoflf in the Bulgarian Sobranje, December 

30, 1916 44 

Austro-Hungarian Reply to the Scandinavian Peace Note, January 1, 1917.. 45 

Statement of Emile Vandervelde, Belgian Minister of State, on the 
Peace Proposals 45 

Chinese Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, January 9, 1917 46 

Entente Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, January 10, 1917 47 

Belgian Note supplementary to the Entente Reply to President Wilson's 

Peace Note, January 10, 1917 50 

German Note to Neutral Powers relative to the Entente Reply to the Peace 
Proposals, January 11, 1917 52 

Extracts from the Austro-Hungarian Note to Neutral Powers relative to 
the Entente Reply to the Peace Proposals, January 11, 1917 55 

Premier Lloyd George's Guildhall Address, January 11, 1917 55 

British Note of January 13, 1917, amplifying the Entente Reply to President 
Wilson's Peace Note 61 

Kaiser Wilhelm's Proclamation to the German People, January 13, 1917 65 

Statement of Francesco Ruflfini, Italian Minister of Public Instruction, 
Rome, January 14, 1917 65 

Persian Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, January 15, 1917 66 

Extract from the Reply of the Greek Government to President Wilson's 

Peace Note, January 16, 1917 67 

President Wilson's Address to the Senate, January 22, 1917 68 

Speech of Viscount Motono, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, in the 
Diet, January 23, 1917 74 

Extract from the Speech of Bonar Law, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
Bristol, England, January 24, 1917 80 

Speech of Premier Tisza in the Hungarian Parliament, January 25, 1917. ... 82 

German Note to the United States regarding the Submarine Blockade, Janu- 
ary 31, 1917 84 

President Wilson's Address to Both Houses of Congress in Joint Session, 

February 3, 1917 89 

Severance of Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Germany, 
February 3, 1917 93 

Instructions to American Diplomatic Representatives in Neutral Countries, 
February 4, 1917, regarding the severance of Diplomatic Relations be- 
tween the United States and Germany ; ,. 95 

Senate Resolution of February 7, 1917, endorsing President Wilson's Action 
in severing Diplomatic Relations with Germany 96 


Extract from the Speech of Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg in 
the German Reichstag, December 12, 1916^ 

The Reichstag had been adjourned for a long period, but fortunately 
it was left to the discretion of the President as to the day of the next 
meeting. This discretion was caused by the hope that soon happy events 
in the field would be recorded, a hope fulfilled quicker, almost, than ex- 
pected. I shall be brief, for actions speak for themselves. 

[Here the Chancellor referred to the entrance of Roumania into the 
war, and its intended effect on the western front.] 

The situation was serious. But with God's help our troops shaped 
conditions so as to give us security which not only is complete but still 
more so than ever before. The western front stands. Not only does it 
stand, but in spite of the Roumanian campaign it is fitted out with larger 
reserves of men and material than it had been formerly. The most 
effective precautions have been taken against all Italian diversions. 
And while on the Somme and on the Carso the drum-fire resounded, 
while the Russians launched troops against the eastern frontier of 
Transylvania, Field Marshal von Hindenburg captured the whole of 
western Wallachia and the hostile capital of Bucharest, leading with 
unparalleled genius the troops that in competition with all the allies 
made possible what hitherto was considered impossible. 

And Hindenburg does not rest. Military operations progress. By 
strokes of the sword at the same time firm foundations for our 
economic needs have been laid. Great stocks of grain, victuals, oil, 
and other goods fell into our hands in Roumania. Their transport has 
begun. In spite of scarcity, we could have lived on our own supplies, 
but now our safety is beyond question. 

To these great events on land, heroic deeds of equal importance are 
added by our submarines. The spectre of famine, which our enemie? 
intended to appear before us, now pursues them without mercy. \\'hen, 
after the termination of the first year of the war, the Emperor ad- 
dressed the nation in a public appeal, he said : "Having witnessed such 
great events, my heart was filled with awe and determination." Neither 
our Emperor nor our nation ever changed their minds in this respect. 

^The Nezu York Times, December 13, 1916. 

2 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

Neither have they now. The genius and heroic acts of our leaders 
have fashioned these facts as firm as iron. If the enemy counted upon 
the weariness of his enemy, then he was deceived. 

The Reichstag, by means of the national auxiliary war service law, 
helped to build a new offensive and defensive bulwark in the midst of 
the great struggle. Behind the fighting army stands the nation at 
work — the gigantic force of the nation, working for the common aim. 

The empire is not a besieged fortress, as our adversaries imagined, 
but one gigantic and firmly disciplined camp with inexhaustible re- 
sources. That is the German Empire, which is firmly and faithfully 
united with its brothers in arms, who have been tested in battle under 
the Austro-Hungarian, Turkish, and Bulgarian flags. 

Our enemies now ascribed to us a plan to conquer the whole world, 
and then desperate cries of anguish for peace. But not confused by 
these asseverations, we progressed with firm decision, and we thus 
continue our progress, always ready to defend ourselves and fight 
for our nation's existence, for its free future, and always ready for 
this price to stretch out our hand for peace. 

Our strength has not made our ears deaf to our responsibility before 
God, before our own nation, and before humanity. The declarations 
formerly made by us concerning our readiness for peace were evaded 
by our adversaries. Now we have advanced one step further in this 
direction. On August 1, 1914, the Emperor had personally to take 
the gravest decision which ever fell to the lot of a German — the order 
for mobilization — which he was compelled to give as a result of the 
Russian mobilization. During these long and earnest years of the 
-war the Emperor has been moved by a single thought : how peace could 
be restored to safeguard Germany after the struggle in which she has 
fought victoriously. 

Nobody can testify better to this than I who bear the responsibility 
for all actions of the Government. In a deep moral and religious sense 
of duty toward his nation and, beyond it, toward humanity, the Em- 
peror now considers that the moment has come for official action 
toward peace. His Majesty, therefore, in complete harmony and in 
common with our allies, decided to propose to the hostile powers to 
enter peace negotiations. This morning I transmitted a note to this 
effect to all the hostile powers through the representatives of those 
powers which are watching over our interests and rights in the hostile 
States. I asked the representatives of Spain, the United States, and 
Switzerland to forward that note. 

The same procedure has been adopted to-day in Vienna, Constant!- 


nople, and Sofia. Other neutral States and his Holiness the Pope have 
been similarly informed. 

[The Chancellor then read the note.^] 

Gentlemen, in August, 1914, our enemies challenged the superiority 
of power in the world war. To-day we raise the question of peace, 
which is a question of humanity. We await the answer of our enemies 
with that sereneness of mind which is guaranteed to us by our exterior 
and interior strength, and by our clear conscience. If our enemies de- 
cline to end the war, if they wish to take upon themselves the world's 
heavy burden of all these terrors which hereafter will follow, then even 
in the least and smallest homes every German heart will burn in sacred 
wrath against our enemies, who are unwilling to stop human slaughter 
in order that their plans of conquest and annihilation may continue. 

In the fateful hour we took a fateful decision. It has been saturated 
with the blood of hundreds of thousands of our sons and brothers who 
gave their lives for the safety of their home. Human wits and human 
understanding are unable to reach to the extreme and last questions 
in this struggle of nations, which has unveiled all the terrors of earthly 
life, but also the grandeur of human courage and human will in ways 
never seen before. God will be the judge. We can proceed upon our 

Peace Note of Germany and Her Allies, December 12, 1916- 

The most terrific war experienced in history has been raging for the 
last two years and a half over a large part of the world — a catastrophe 
which thousands of years of common civilization was unable to pre- 
vent and which injures the most precious achievements of humanity. 

Our aims are not to shatter nor annihilate our adversaries. In spite 
of our consciousness of our military and economic strength s-id our 
readiness to continue the war (which has been forced upon us) to 
the bitter end, if necessary ; at the same time, prompted by the desire 
to avoid further bloodshed and make an end to the atrocities of war, 
the four allied powers propose to enter forthwith into peace negotia- 

The propositions which they bring forward for such negotiations, 
and which have for their object a guarantee of the existence, of the 
honor and liberty of evolution for their nations, are, according to their 

^See infra. 

''The New York Times, December 13, 1916. 

4 PEACE PROPOSALS, 191^1917 

firm belief, an appropriate basis for the establishment of a lasting 

The four allied powers have been obliged to take up arms to defend 
justice and the liberty of national evolution. The glorious deeds of 
our armies have in no way altered their purpose. We always main- 
tained the firm belief that our own rights and justified claims in no way 
control the rights of these nations. 

The spiritual and material progress which were the pride of Europe 
at the beginning of the twentieth century are threatened with ruin. 
Germany and her allies, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey, gave 
proof of their unconquerable strength in this struggle. They gained 
gigantic advantages over adversaries superior in number and war 
material. Our lines stand unshaken against ever-repeated attempts 
made by armies. 

The last attack in the Balkans has been rapidly and victoriously 
overcome. The most recent events have demonstrated that further 
continuance of the war will not result in breaking the resistance of 
our forces, and the whole situation with regard to our troops justifies 
our expectation of further successes. 

If, in spite of this offer of peace and reconciliation, the struggle 
should go on, the four allied powers are resolved to continue to a 
victorious end, but they solemnly disclaim responsibility for this before 
humanity and history. The Imperial Government, through the good 
offices of your Excellency, asks the Government of [here is inserted 
the name of the neutral power addressed in each instance] to bring 
this communication to the knowledge of the Government of [here are 
inserted the names of the belligerents]. 

Note of the German Government to the Vatican regarding the 
Peace Proposals, December 12, 1916^ 

According to instructions received, I have the honor to send to your 
Eminence a copy of the declaration of the Imperial Government to-day, 
which, by the good offices of the powers intrusted with the protection 
of German interests in the countries with which the German Empire 
is in a state of war, transmits to these States, and in which the Imperial 
Government declares itself ready to enter into peace negotiations. The 
Austro-Hungarian, Turkish, and Bulgarian Governments also have 
sent similar notes. 

^The New York Times, December 13, 1916. 


The reasons which prompted Germany and her aUies to take this 
step are manifest. For two years and a half a terrible war has been 
devastating the European Continent. Unlimited treasures of civiliza- 
tion have been destroyed. Extensive areas have been soaked with 
blood, MilHons of brave soldiers have fallen in battle and millions 
have returned home as invalids. Grief and sorrow fill almost every 

Not only upon the belligerent nations, but also upon neutrals, the 
destructive consequences of the gigantic struggle weigh heavily. Trade 
and commerce, carefully built up in years of peace, 'have been de- 
pressed. The best forces of the nation have been withdrawn from 
the production of useful objects. Europe, which formerly was devoted 
to the propagation of religion and civilization, which was trying to 
find solutions for social problems, and was the home of science and 
art and all peaceful labor, now resembles an immense war camp, in 
which the achievements and works of many decades are doomed to 

Germany is carrying on a war of defence against her enemies, wliich 
aim at her destruction. She fights to assure the integrity of her fron- 
tiers and the liberty of the German Nation, for the right which she 
claims to develop freely her intellectual and economic energies in peace- 
ful competition and on an equal footing with other nations. All the 
efforts of their enemies are unable to shatter the heroic armies of the 
(Teutonic) allies, which protect the frontiers of their countries, 
strengthened by the certainty that the enemy shall never pierce the iron 

Those fighting on the front know that they are supported by the 
whole nation, which is inspired by love for its country and is ready 
for the greatest sacrifices and determined to defend to the last extremity 
the inherited treasure of intellectual and economic work and the social 
organization and sacred soil of the country. 

Certain of our own strength, but realizing Europe's sad future if 
the war continues; seized with pity in the face of the unspeakable 
misery of humanity, the German Empire, in accord with her allies, 
solemnly repeats what the Chancellor already has declared, a year ago, 
that Germany is ready to give peace to the world by setting before the 
whole world the question whether or not it is possible to find a basis 
for an understanding. 

Since the first day of the Pontifical reign his Holiness the Pope has 
unswervingly demonstrated, in the most generous fashion, his solicitude 

6 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

for the innumerable victims of this war. He has alleviated the suffer- 
ings and ameliorated the fate of thousands of men injured by this 
catastrophe. Inspired by the exalted ideas of his ministry, his Holiness 
has seized every opportunity in the interests of humanity to end so 
sanguinary a war. 

The Imperial Government is firmly confident that the iniative of the 
four powers will find friendly welcome on the part of his Holiness, 
and that the work of peace can count upon the precious support of the 
Holy See. 

Austrian Official Statement regarding the Peace Proposals, 
December 12, 1916^ 

When in the summer of 1914 the patience of Austria-Hungary was 
exhausted by a series of systematically-continued and ever-increasing 
provocations and menaces, and the monarchy, after almost fifty years 
of unbroken peace, found itself compelled to draw the sword, this 
weighty decision was animated neither by aggressive purposes nor by 
designs of ponquest, but solely by the bitter necessity of self-defense, 
to defend its existence and safeguard itself for the future against 
similar treacherous plots of hostile neighbors. 

That was the task and aim of the monarchy in the present war. In 
combination with its allies, well tried in loyal comradeship in arms, the 
Austro-Hungarian army and fleet, fighting, bleeding, but also assail- 
ing and conquering, gained such successes that they frustrated the in- 
tentions of the enemy. The Quadruple Alliance not only has won an 
immense series of victories, but also holds in its power extensive hostile 
territories. Unbroken is its strength, as our latest treacherous enemy 
has just experienced. 

Can our enemies hope to conquer or shatter this alliance of powers? 
They will never succeed in breaking it by blockade and starvation 
measures. Their war aims, to the attainment of which they have come 
no nearer in the third year of the war, will in the future be proved to 
have been completely unattainable. Useless and unavailing, therefore, 
is the prosecution of the fighting on the part of the enemy. 

The powers of the Quadruple Alliance, on the other hand, have 
efifectively pursued their aims, namely, defence against attacks on their 
existence and integrity, which were planned in concert long since, and 

^The New York Times, December 13, 1916. 


the achievement of real guarantees, and they will never allow them- 
selves to be deprived of the basis of their existence, which they have 
secured by advantages won. 

The continuation of the murderous war, in which the enemy can 
destroy much, but can not — as the Quadruple Alliance is firmly con- 
fident — alter fate, is ever more seen to be an aimless destruction of 
human lives and property, an act of inhumanity justified by no neces- 
sity and a crime against civilization. 

This conviction, arid the hope that similar views may also be begun 
to be entertained in the enemy camp, has caused the idea to ripen in 
the Vienna Cabinet — in full agreement with the Governments of the 
allied (Teutonic) powers — of making a candid and loyal endeavor to 
come to a discussion with their enemies for the purpose of paving a 
way for peace. 

The Governments of Austria-Hungar}', Germany, Turkey, and Bul- 
garia have addressed to-day identical notes to the diplomatic representa- 
tives in the capitals concerned who are intrusted with the promotion of 
enemy nationals, 'expressing an inclination to enter into peace negotia- 
tions and requesting them to transmit this overture to enemy States. 
This step was simultaneously brought to the knowledge of the repre- 
sentatives of the Holy See in a special note, and the active interest 
of the Pope for this offer of peace was solicited. Likewise the ac- 
credited representatives of the remaining neutral States in the four 
capitals were acquainted with this proceeding for the purpose of in- 
forming their Governments. 

Austria and her allies by this step have given new and decisive proof 
of their love of peace. It is now for their enemies to make known 
their views before the world. 

Whatever the result of its proposal may be. no responsibility can 
fall on the Quadruple Alliance, even before the judgment seat of its 
own peoples, if it is eventually obliged to continue the war. 

Extracts from the Speech of Premier Briand in the French Chamber 
of Deputies, December 13, 1916^ 


It is after proclaiming her victory on every front that Germany, 

^France: Journal OfHciel du 14 decembre 1916, Chambre — Seance du 13 decem- 
bre, p. 3638. 

8 PEACE PROPOSALS, 191^1917 

feeling that she can not win, throws out to us certain phrases about 
which I can not refrain from making a few remarks. 

You have read the speech of Mr. von Bethmann-Hollweg, the Chan- 
cellor of the German Empire. On this speech, of which I have not 
yet received the official text, I can not express myself officially. These 
so-called proposals have not yet been presented to any of the Govern- 
ments, and it is rather doubtful whether, under existing conditions, 
those who have been asked to act as intermediaries will accept so deli- 
cate a task, which may disturb many a conscience. 

On this as on all matters I cannot express an official opinion until 
we and our Allies have thoroughly considered and discussed the ques- 
tion, and reached a full and complete agreement. But I have the 
right, indeed the duty, to warn you against this possible poisoning of 
our country. 

When I see Germany arming herself to the teeth, mobilizing her 
entire civil population at the risk of destroying her commerce and her in- 
dustries, of breaking up her homes of which she is so proud ; when I 
see the fires of all her factories burning red in the manufacture of war 
material ; when I see her, in contravention of the law of nations, con- 
scripting men in their own countries and forcing them to work for 
her, if I did not warn my country, I should be culpable indeed ! 

Observe, gentlemen, that what they are sending us from over there 
is an invitation to discuss peace. It is extended to us under conditions 
that are well known to you: Belgium invaded, Serbia invaded, Rou- 
mania invaded, ten of our Departments invaded ! This invitation is 
in vague and obscure terms, in high-sounding words to mislead the 
minds, to stir the conscience, and to trouble the hearts of peoples who 
mourn for their countless dead. Gentlemen, this is a crucial moment. 
I discern in these declarations the same cry of conscience, ever striving 
to deceive neutrals and perhaps also to blind the eyes of those among 
the German people whose vision is still unimpaired. "It was not we," 
say these declarations, "who let loose this horrible war." 

There is one cry constantly on German lips : "We were attacked ; 
we are defending ourselves ; we are the victims !" To this cry I make 
answer for the hundredth time : "No ; you are the aggressors ; no mat- 
ter what you may say, the facts are there to prove it. The blood is on 
your heads, not on ours." 

Furthermore, the circumstances in which these proposals are made 
are such that I have the right to denounce them as a crafty move, a 
clumsy snare. When, after reading words like the following, "We 
wish to give to our peoples every liberty they need, every opportunity 


to live and to prosper that they may desire," I note in the same docu- 
ment that what our enemies so generously offer to other nations is a 
sort of charitable promise not to crush them, not to annihilate them, 
I exclaim: "Is that what they dare to offer, after the Marne, after 
the Yser, after Verdun, to France who stands before them glorious 
in her strength?" 

We must think over a document like that ; we must consider what it 
represents at the moment it is thrown at the world and what its aim is. 

The things I am telling you are merely my personal impressions. I 
would not be talking thus, were it not my duty to put my country on 
her guard against what might bring about her demoralization. It is 
not that I doubt her clear-sightedness or her perspicacity. I am 
quite sure that she will not allow herself to be duped. But, never- 
theless, even before the proposals are ofificially laid before us, I have 
the right to say to you that they are merely a ruse, an attempt to 
weaken the bonds of our alliance, to trouble the conscience and to 
undermine the courage of our people. 

Therefore, gentlemen, with apologies for having spoken at such 
length — ^but you will not reproach me for having taken up this question 
— I conclude with the statement that the French Republic will do no 
less now than did the Convention, under similar circumstances, at an 
earlier period of our history. 

Russian semi-official Statement regarding the German Peace Pro- 
posals, December 14, 1916^ 

The new appeal of our enemies is not their first attempt to throw 
the responsibilities of the war, which they have let loose, upon the 
Entente Powers. In order to obtain the support of the German people, 
who are tired of the war, the Berlin Government has many times had 
recourse to fallacious words of peace, and has frequently, in order to 
animate its troops, offered prospects of early peace. It had already 
promised peace when Warsaw was taken and Serbia was conquered, 
forgetting that such promises, if unfulfilled, would create profound 

In its further efforts, which were similar and due to the same inter- 
ested considerations, the German Government was obliged to carry 
this question outside Germany, and all the world recalls these attempts, 

^The Times, London, December 15, 1916. 

10 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

notably its hallons d'essai which were sent up in neutral countries, par- 
ticularly the United States. Seeing the inanity of such methods, which 
deceived no one, Germany attempted to create a peace atmosphere 
which would allow her to consolidate her aggressive and Imperialist 
tendencies, while sowing discord between the Allies, by seeking to 
make public opinion believe that separate pourparlers were in progress 
between her and the Entente Powers. 

That was the period of the persistent reports of a separate peace. 
Seeing, however, that the Allies rejected with strong unanimity all 
these attempts, our enemies had to think of a more serious plan. They 
are to-day making, in spite of their confidence in their military and 
economic power, an appeal to the United States, Spain, and Switzer- 
land, announcing their anxiety to enter into negotiations for peace. 

The lack of sincerity and the object of the German proposal are 
evident. The enemy Governments have need of heroic measures to 
complete the gaps in their armies. The German Government, in order 
to lift up the hearts of its people and to prepare it for fresh sacri- 
fices, is striving to create a favourable atmosphere with the following 
thesis: — "We are struggling for our existence. We are proposing 
peace. It is refused us. Therefore, the responsibility for the continu- 
ation of the war falls upon our enemies." 

The object pursued by Germany is, however, clear. She speaks of 
respect for the rights of other nations, but at the same time she has 
already introduced in Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro, and Poland a 
regime of terror and violence. As for the future, Germany has pro- 
claimed the illusory independence of Poland, she proposes to divide 
Serbia between Bulgaria and Austria, economically to subjugate Bel- 
gium, and to cede to Bulgaria part of Roumanian territory. Every- 
where the idea of the hegemony of Germany predominates, and the 
latest speeches of Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg show up the true aspi- 
rations of the German Government. 

But to-day, when the Entente Powers have proclaimed their un- 
shakable determination to continue the war to a successful end and 
to prevent Germany from establishing her hegemony, no favourable 
ground exists for peace negotiations. Our enemies knew of the 
speeches of Mr. Lloyd George, M. Briand, Signor Boselli, and the 
statement of M. Trepoflf. They were therefore sure that their proposal 
was unacceptable. It is so not because the Entente Powers, the friends 
of peace, are not inclined that way, but because the peace oflfered by 
Germany is a snare for public opinion. That is why the enemy Gov- 
ernments carefully avoid mentioning the conditions of peace. 


We are sure that this new enterprise of the disturbers of the peace 
will lead no one astray, and that it is condemned to failure like 
previous efforts. The Entente Powers would assume a terrible re- 
sponsibility before their peoples, before all humanity, if they sus- 
pended the struggle against Germany's latest attempt to profit by 
the present situation to implant her hegemony in Europe. All the 
innumerable sacrifices of the Allies would be nullified by a premature 
peace with an enemy who is exhausted but not yet brought down. 

The firm determination of the Entente Powers to continue the 
war to final triumph can be weakened by no illusory proposals of the 

Extract from the Speech of Nicolas Pokrovsky, Russian Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, in the Duma, December 15, 1916^ 

I am addressing you immediately on having been appointed to the 
post of Minister for Foreign Affairs, and am, naturally, not in a 
position to give you a detailed statement on the political situation 
of the day. But I feel constrained to inform you without delay 
and with the supreme authorization of his Imperial Majesty of the 
attitude of the Russian Government with regard to the application 
of our enemies, of which you heard yesterday through the telegrams 
of the news agencies. 

Words of peace coming from the side which bears the whole bur- 
den of responsibility for the world conflagration, which it started. 
and which is unparalleled in the annals of history, however far 
back one may go, were no surprise to the Allies. In the course of 
the two and a half years that the war has lasted Germany has more 
than once mentioned peace. She .spoke of it to her armies and to 
her people each time she entered upon a military operation which 
was to prove "decisive." After each military success, calculated with 
a view to creating an impression, she put out feelers for a separate 
peace on one side and, another and conducted an active propaganda 
in the neutral Press. All these German efforts met with the calm 
and determined resistance of the Allied Powers. 

Now, seeing that she is powerless to make a breach in our un- 
shakable alliance, Germany makes an official proposal to open peace 
negotiations. In order properly to appreciate the meaning of this 
proposal one must consider its intrinsic worth and the circumstances 

^Thc Times, London, December 16, 1916. 

12 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

in which it was made. In substance the German proposal contains 
no tangible indications regarding the nature of the peace which is 
desired. It repeats the antiquated legend that the war was forced 
upon the Central Powers, it speaks of the victorious Austro-German 
armies, and the irresistibility of their defence, and then, proposing 
the opening of peace negotiations, the Central Powers express the 
conviction that the offers which they have to make will guarantee 
the existence, honour, and free development of their own peoples, 
and are calculated to establish a lasting peace. That is all the com- 
munication contains, except a threat to continue the war to a victor- 
ious end, and, in the case of refusal, to throw the responsibility for 
the further spilHng of blood on our Allies. 

What are the circumstances in which the German proposal was 
made? The enemy armies devastated and occupy Belgium, Serbia 
and Montenegro, and a part of France, Russia and Roumania. The 
Austro-Germans have just proclaimed the illusory independence of 
a part of Poland, and are by this trying to lay hands on the entire 
Polish nation. Who, then, with the exception of Germany, could 
derive any advantage under such- conditions by the opening of peace 
negotiations ? 

But the motives of the German step will be shown more clearly 
in relief if one takes into consideration the domestic conditions of 
our enemies. Without speaking of the unlawful attempts of the 
Germans to force the population of Russian Poland to take arms 
against its own country, it will suffice to mention the introduction 
of general forced labour in Germany to understand how hard is the 
situation of our enemies. To attempt at the last moment to profit 
by their fleeting territorial conquests before their domestic weakness 
was revealed — that was the real meaning of the German proposal. 
In the event of failure they will exploit at home the refusal of the 
Allies to accept peace in order to rehabilitate the tottering morale of 
their populations. 

But there is another senseless motive for the step they have taken. 
Failing to understand the true spirit which 'animates Russia, our 
enemies deceive themselves with the vain hope that they will find 
among us men cowardly enough to allow themselves to be deceived 
if even for a moment by lying proposals. That will not be. No 
Russian heart will yield. On the contrary, the whole of Russia will 
rally all the more closely round its august Sovereign, who declared 
at the verv beginning of the war that he "would not make peace 
until the last enemy soldier had left our country." 


Russia will apply herself with more energy than ever to the realiza- 
tion of the aims proclaimed before you on the clay when you reassem- 
bled, especially to the positive and general collaboration which con- 
stitutes the only sure means of arriving at the end which we all 
have at heart — namely, the crushing of the enemy. The Russian 
Government repudiates with indignation the mere idea of suspending 
the struggle and thereby permitting Germany to take advantage of 
the last chance she will have of subjecting Europe to her hegemony. 
All the innumerable sacrifices already made would be in vain if a 
premature peace were concluded with an enemy whose forces have 
been shaken, but not broken, an enemy who is seeking a breathing 
space by making deceitful ofifers of a permanent peace. In this in- 
flexible decision, Russia is in complete agreement with all her valiant 
Allies. We are all equally convinced of the vital necessity of carry- 
ing on the war to a victorious end, and no subterfuge bv our enemies 
will prevent us from following this path. 

Resolution of the Russian Duma against acceptance of the German 
Peace Proposals, December 15, 1916^ 

The Duma having heard the statement of the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs is unanimously in favour of a categorical refusal by the Al- 
lied Governments to enter under present conditions into any peace 
negotiations whatever. It considers that the German proposals are 
nothing more than a fresh proof of the weakness of the enemy, 
and are a hypocritical act from which the enemy expects no real 
success, but by which he seeks to throw upon others the responsibility 
for the war and for what has happened during it, and to exculpate 
itself before public opinion in Germany. 

The Duma considers that a premature peace would not only be 
a brief period of calm, but would involve the danger of another 
bloody war and renewed deplorable sacrifices on the part of the 

It considers that a lasting peace will be possible only after a de- 
cisive victorv over the military power of the enemy, and after the 
definite renunciation by Germany of the aspirations which render 
her responsible for the world war and for the horrors by which it 
is accompanied. 

^The Times, London, December 16, 1916. 

14 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

Speech of Arthur Henderson, unofficial Member of the British 
Cabinet, London, December 16, 1916^ 

The British people, with their national love of peace, were anxious 
that the real meaning of the German proposals should be appreciated. 
But the Government knew nothing concerning the text of the proposals, 
and Germany's motives must for the present remain a matter of specu- 
lation. But, judging from past and from recent events, we might an- 
ticipate, without over-assumption, that any proposals Germany might 
put forward would not err on the side of magnanimity. 

Any proposals put forward must be examined with the greatest pos- 
sible care. We of all people must not forget that Germany was pre- 
pared for peace with this country as late as August, 1914. But on 
what conditions? That we were prepared to betray France and ac- 
quiesce in the violation of the neutrality of Belgium, which Germany, 
like ourselves, had on oath sworn to maintain. The lesson to be learned 
from her present desire for peace was that any proposal received must 
be scrutinized in the light of our obligations to our Allies, to whom 
we were pledged to make no separate peace. However convenient it 
might be for Germany to ignore her responsibility in this great war, 
however far she might ignore her responsibilities to small nationalities, 
it was loyalty on our part to our brave and loyal comrades that must 
bind us to the end. 

Subject to these considerations, the people of this country were pre- 
pared to-day, as in August, 1914, to accept peace, provided that that 
peace was both just and permanent. But there was one supreme con- 
dition — namely, that the principles governing any decision must be 
those on which we entered, and on which we were continuing, the war. 
We entered the war in defence of small nationalities, to defend France 
from wanton aggression, and to preserve our own security. Indemnity 
for the past was not enough unless we had guarantees for the future ; 
and guarantees for the future were not enough without ample repara- 
tion for all that Belgium, France, Serbia and Poland had suffered. The 
peace into which we entered must contain guarantees for its own dura- 
tion. Germany might have such a peace if she furnished us with proof 
of her good intentions. 

But, he concluded, if her present overtures are merely a pretence; 
if it is shown that she is merely arranging an armistice, to enable her 
to obtain a breathing-space that will furnish her with the opportunity 
to lay fresh plans of aggression, then I say, whatever may be the temp- 

"^The Times. London, December 16, 1916. 


tation to the people of these islands, we must set our faces like the steel 
you work upon against her proposals. 

Extract from the Speech of Baron Sonnino, Italian Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, in the Chamber of Deputies, December 18, 1916^ 

The Government knows absolutely nothing regarding the specific 
conditions of the enemy's peace proposals and regards as an enemy 
manoeuvre the rumours secretly spread about them. We must re- 
member that none of the Allies could in any way take into considera- 
tion any condition offered to it separately. The reply of the Allies 
will be published as soon as it has been agreed upon. 

We all desire a lasting peace, but we consider as such an or- 
dered settlement of which the duration does not depend upon the 
strength of the chains binding one people to another, but on a just 
equilibrium between States and respect for the principle of nation- 
ality, the rights of nations, and reasons of humanity and civiliza- 
tion. While intensifying our efiforts to beat the enemy, we do not 
aim at an international settlement by servitude and predominance 
implying the annihilation of peoples and nations. If a serious pro- 
posal was made on a solid basis for negotiations satisfying the gener- 
al demands of justice and civilization, no one would oppose an a priori 
refusal to treat, but many things indicate that that is not the case 
now. The tone of boasting and insincerity characterizing the pre- 
amble to the enemy notes inspires no confidence in the proposals of 
the Central Empires. The Governments of the Allies must avoid 
the creation for their populations by a false mirage of vain nego- 
tiations of an enoiTnous deception, followed by cruel disappointment. 

'^The Times, London, December 19, 1916. 

16 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

President Wilson's Peace Note, December 18, 1916^ 

The Secretary of State to Ambassador W. H. Page^ 


Department of State, 
Washington, December i8, ipi6. 

The President directs me to send you the following communication 
to be presented immediately to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the 
Government to which you are accredited : 

"The President of the United States has instructed me to suggest 
to His Majesty's Government a course of action with regard to the 
present war which he hopes that the British Government will take 
under consideration as suggested in the most friendly spirit and as 
coming not only from a friend but also as coming from the representa- 
tive of a neutral nation whose interests have been most seriously 
affected by the war and whose concern for its early conclusion arises 
out of a manifest necessity to determine how best to safeguard those 
interests if the war is to continue. 

"The suggestion which I am instructed to make the President has 
long had it in mind to offer. He is somewhat embarrassed to offer it 
at this particular time because it may now seem to have been prompted 
by the recent overtures of the Central Powers. It is in fact in no way 
associated with them in its origin and the President would have de- 
layed offering it until those overtures had been answered but for the 
fact that it also concerns the question of peace and may best be 
considered in connection with other proposals which have the same 
end in view. The President can only beg that his suggestion be con- 
sidered entirely on its own merits and as if it had been made in other 

^Official prints of the Department of State. 

2Same mutatis mutandis to the American Diplomatic Representatives accredited 
to all the belligerent Governments and to all neutral Governments for their in- 

3In the note addressed to the Representatives of the Central Powers, this 
paragraph reads as follows : 

"The suggestion which I am instructed to make the President has long had it 
in mind to offer. He is somewhat embarrassed to offer it at this particular time 
because it may now seem to have been prompted by a desire to play a part in 
connection with the recent overtures of the Central Powers. It has in fact been 
in no way suggested by them in its origin and the President would have delayed 
offering it until those overtures had been independently answered but for the 
fact that it also concerns the question of peace and may best be considered in 
connection with other proposals which have the same end in view. The Presi- 
dent can only beg that his suggestion be considered entirely on its own merits 
and as if it had been made in other circumstances." 


"The President suggests that an early occasion be sought to call 
out from all the nations now at war such an avowal of their respective 
views as to the terms upon which the war might be concluded and the 
arrangements which would be deemed satisfactory as a guaranty 
against its renewal or the kindling of any similar conflict in the future 
as would make it possible frankly to compare them. He is indifferent 
as to the means taken to accomplish this. He would be happy himself 
to serve or even to take the initiative in its accomplishment in any way 
that might prove acceptable, but he has no desire to determine the 
method or the instrumentality. One way will be as acceptable to him 
as another if only the great object he has in mind be attained. 

"He takes the liberty of calling attention to the fact that the objects 
which the statesmen of the belligerents on both sides have in mind in 
this war are virtually the same, as stated in general terms to their 
own people and to the world. Each side desires to make the rights 
and privileges of weak peoples and small States as secure against 
aggression or denial in the future as the rights and privileges of the 
great and powerful States now at war. Each wishes itself to be made 
secure in the future, along with all other nations and peoples, against 
the recurrence of wars like this and against aggression of selfish in- 
terference of any kind. Each would be jealous of the formation of 
any more rival leagues to preserve an uncertain balance of power 
amidst multiplying suspicions ; but each is ready to consider the forma- 
tion of a league of nations to insure peace and justice throughout the 
world. Before that final step can be taken, however, each deems it 
necessary first to settle the issues of the present war upon terms which 
will certainlv safeguard the independence, the territorial integrity, 
and the political and commercial freedom of the nations involved. 

"In the measures to be taken to secure the future peace of the 
world the people and Government of the United States are as vitally 
and as directly interested as the Governments now at war. Their 
interest, moreover, in the means to be adopted to relieve the smaller 
and weaker peoples of the world of the peril of wrong and violence is 
as quick and ardent as that of any other people or Government. They 
stand ready, and even eager, to cooperate in the accomplishment of 
these ends, when the war is over, with every influence and resource 
at their command. But the war must first be concluded. The terms 
upon which it is to be concluded they are not at liberty to suggest: 
but the President does feel that it is his right and his duty to point 
out their intimate interest in its conclusion, lest it should presently be 
too late to accomplish the greater things which lie beyond its con- 

18 PEACE PROPOSALS. 191^1917 

elusion, lest the situation of neutral nations, now exceedingly hard to 
endure, be rendered altogether intolerable, and lest, more than all, an 
injury be done civilization itself which can never be atoned for or 

"The President therefore feels altogether justified in suggesting an 
immediate opportunity for a comparison of views as to the terms 
which must precede those ultimate arrangements for the peace of the 
world, which all desire and in which the neutral nations as well as 
those at war are ready to play their full responsible part. If the con- 
test must continue to proceed towards undefined ends by slow attrition 
until the one group of belligerents or the other is exhausted, if million 
after million of human lives must continue to be offered up until on 
the one side or the other there are no more to offer, if resentments 
must be kindled that can never cool and despairs engendered from 
which there can be no recovery, hopes of peace and of the willing 
concert of free peoples will be rendered vain and idle. 

"The life of the entire world has been profotmdly affected. Every 
part of the great family of mankmd has felt the burden and terror of 
this unprecedented contest of arms. No nation in the civilized world 
can be said in truth to stand outside its influence or to be safe against 
its disturt>ing effects. And yet the concrete objects for which it is 
being waged have never been definitively stated. 

"The leaders of the several belligerents have, as has been said, 
stated those objects in general terms. But, stated in general terms, 
they seem the same on both sides. Never yet have the authoritative 
spokesmen of either side avowed the precise objects which would, if 
attained, satisfy them and their people. that the war had been fought 
out. The world has been left to conjecture what definitive results, 
what actual exchange of guarantees, what political or territorial changes 
or readjustments, what stage of military success even, would bring the 
war to an end. 

"It may be that peace is nearer than we know ; that the terms which 
the belligerents on the one side and on the other would deem it neces- 
sary to insist upon are not so irreconcilable as some have feared ; that 
an interchange of views would clear the way at least for conference 
and make the permanent concord of the nations a hope of the imme- 
diate future, a concert of nations immediately practicable. 

"The President is not proposing peace ; he is not even offering 
mediation. He is merely proposing that soundings be taken in order 
that we may learn, the neutral nations with the belligerent, how near 


the haven of peace may be for which all mankind longs with an 
intense and increasing longing. He believes that the spirit in which 
he speaks and the objects which he seeks will be understood by all 
concerned, and he confidently hopes for a response which will bring 
a new light into the affairs of the world." 


Extracts from the Speech of Lord Curzon in the House of Lords, 
December 19, 1916' 

I hope I shall not be wrong if I state my belief that the friendly wel- 
come which has been accorded to the present Government, not least 
by your Lordships, has been due to the conviction that a greater and 
more concentrated effort, more effective and universal organisation, a 
more and adequate and rapid use of the resources not only of ourselves 
alone, but of our Allies, are required if we are to carry the war to the 
successful termination we all desire. This country is not merely will- 
ing to be led, but is almost calling to be driven. They desire the 
vigorous prosecution of the war, a sufficient and ample return 
for all the sacrifices they have made, reparation by the enemy for his 
countless and inconceivable crimes, security that those crimes shall not 
be repeated, and that those sacrifices shall not have been made in vain. 
They desire that the peace of Europe shall be re-established on the 
basis of a free and independent existence of nations great and small. 
They desire as regards ourselves that our own country shall be free 
from the menace which the triumph of German arms, and still more 
the triumph of the German spirit, would entail. It is to carry out 
these intentions that the present Government has come into existence, 
and by its success or failure in doing so will it be judged. 

At the very moment when she is talking of peace Germany is making 
the most stupendous eft'orts for the prosecution of the war. and to find 
new men. ^She is squeezing possibly the last drop out of the manhood 
of her nation. She is compelling every man, woman, and boy, between 
sixteen and sixty, to enter the service of the State. At the same time, 
with a callous ferocity and disregard of international law, she is driving 
the population of the territory she has occupied into compulsory service. 
She is even trying to get an army out of Poland by offering it the illu- 
sor}' boon of "independence." That is the nature of the challenge we 
have to meet. It has been our object to establish such a system of re- 

^The Morning Post, London, December 20, 1916. 

20 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

cruiting as will ensure that no man is taken for the Army who is capa- 
ble of rendering more useful service in industry. We ought to have 
power to see that every man who is not taken into the Army is em- 
ployed on national work. At present it is only on men fit for miUtary 
service the nation has the right to call. Unfit men, exempted men, are 
surely under the same moral obligation. We need to make a swift and 
effective answer to Germany's latest move, and in my opinion it is not 
too much to ask the people of this country to take upon themselves in a 
few months and as free men the obHgations which Germany is im- 
posing on herself. As our Army grows our need of munitions grows. A 
large part of our labour for munition purposes is at present immobile, 
and we have no power to transfer men from where they are wasting 
their strength to places where they can be of great service. We have 
not the organisation for transferring them as volunteers. These are 
the powers we must take, and this is the organisation we must complete. 
The matter is not new. It was considered by the War Committee of 
the late Government and others, and it was decided that the time had 
come for the adoption of universal national service. It was one of the 
first matters taken up by the present Government. 

Having dealt so far with the domestic programme of the Government 
I will now refer to the military and political situations. While I do not 
believe in painting too rosy a picture of affairs, I think we ought not to 
take a gloomy view. It is true that Germany has captured the capital 
of Roumania, but your Lordships must not imagine that she has gained 
all the success even in Roumania that the words of the Imperial Chan- 
cellor would appear to suggest. It may be a consolation to your Lord- 
ships to know that the oil refineries and stocks in that part of Roumania 
which is now in the occupation of the Germans were destroyed before 
the arrival of the Germans. It would be invidious if I were to dis- 
cuss the cause of Roumania's failure. It is one of the tragic incidents 
of the war. The only military Power which could come to the assist- 
ance of Roumania was Russia. Russia has done all in her power. The 
utmost we could do was to send supplies, as we did, and to engage the 
common enemy by an active ofifensive from our military base at Salo- 
nica. What changes have taken place in the external aspect of the war 
during the present year? 

I distrust statistics, at any rate, in casualties in war, nor do I attach 
too much importance to the fact that since July 1 the combined armies 


of France and England have taken 105,000 German prisoners, 150 
heavy guns, 200 field guns, and 15,000 machine guns. There have 
been much more important consequences than this. The Allies have 
established an incontestable superiority not merely in the fighting 
strength and stamina of their men, but in artillery and the air. It is 
clear that the morale of the Germans is greatly shaken and that their 
forces are sick of it. Evidence is accumulating of the bad interior con- 
dition of Germany, in some cases the admitted hunger and in some 
cases almost starvation, and the progressive physical deterioration of 
her people. The outlook is not quite so good for the Central Powers 
as they v^ould have us believe, and our attitude need not be one of 
despondency or alarm. It is at this moment that Germany has come 
forward with offers of peace, or rather I can not fairly use the word 
offer, but rather let me say vague adumbrations and indications of 
peace. What has been the course of events? First there has been 
the speech of the Imperial Chancellor in the Reichstag. Next there is 
the note to the Powers. The note proclaims the indestructible strength 
of the Central Powers and proclaims that Germany is not only unde- 
feated, but undefeatable. It advances the plea that Germany was con- 
strained to take up arms for the defence of her existence. It avows 
German respect for the rights of other nations — and expresses a 
desire to stem the flood of blood, and finally, after this remarkable 
preamble, it declares that they propose to enter even now, in the 
hour of their triumph, they propose, as an act of condescension. 
to enter into peace negotiations. As regards peace, is there a single 
one of the Allied Powers who would not welcome peace if it is to be a 
genuine peace, a lasting peace, a peace that could be secured on 
honorable terms, a peace that would give guarantees for the future? 
Is there a single Government, statesman, or individual who does not 
wish to put an end to this conflict, which is turning half the world into 
a hell and wrecking the brightest prospects of mankind? In what 
spirit is it proposed and from whom does it come ? 

Is this the spirit in which your Lordships think that peace proposals 
should be made? Does it hold out a reasonable prospect of inducing 
the Allies to lay down their arms? Is there any indication of German 
desire to make reparation and to give guarantees for the future ? So 
far as we can judge from that speech, and it is all we have to judge by, 
the spirit which breathes in every word is the spirit of German militar- 
ism. While that speech is being made Belgian deportation is going on. 
It is said that the "peace of God passeth nnderstanding." Surelv the 

22 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

same thing can be said in a different sense of the peace which Germany 
proposes. We know nothing of that. We have only the menacing tone 
of the note and the speech which accompanied it. Let me put one more 
reflection before you. Let no one think for a moment that it is merely by 
territorial* restitution or by reversion to the status quo ante that the 
objects for which the AlHes are fighting will be obtained. We are 
fighting, it is true, to recover for Belgium, France, Russia, Serbia, and 
Roumania the territories which they have lost, and to secure reparation 
for the cruel wrongs they have experienced. But you may restore to 
them all, and more than all, they have lost, you may pile on indemnities 
which no treasury in Europe could produce, and yet the war would 
have been in vain if we had no guarantees and no securities against a 
repetition of Germany's offense. We are not fighting to destroy Ger- 
many. Such an idea has never entered into the mind of any thinking 
human being in this country. But we are fighting to secure that the Ger- 
man spirit shall not crush the free progress of nations and that the 
armed strength of Germany, augmented and fortified, shall not dominate 
the future. We are fighting that our grandchildren and our great- 
grandchildren shall not have, in days when we have passed away, to go 
again through the experience of the years 1914 to 1917. This genera- 
tion has suffered in order that the next may live. We are ready enough 
for peace when these guarantees have been secured and these objects 
attained. Till then we owe it to the hundreds of thousands of our 
fellow-countrymen and our Allies, who have shed their blood for us, to 
be true to the trust of their splendid and uncomplaining sacrifice and 
to endure to the end. 

Extracts from the Speech of Premier Lloyd George in the House of 
Commons, December 19, 1916^ 

I am afraid I shall have to claim the indulgence of the House in 
making the observations which I have to make in moving the second 
reading of this Bill. I am still suffering a little from my throat. I 
appear before the House of Commons to-day with the most terrible 
responsibility that can fall upon the shoulders of any living man as 
the chief adviser of the Crown in the most gigantic war in which this 
country has ever been engaged, a war upon the events of which its 
destiny depends. It is the greatest war ever waged. The burdens 
are the heaviest that have been cast upon this or any other country, 

^The Times, London, December 20, 1916. 


and the issues which hang on it are the gravest that have been attached 
to any conflict in which humanity has ever been involved. 

The responsibihties of the new Government have been suddenly 
accentuated by a declaration made by the German Chancellor, and I 
propose to deal with that at once. The statement made by him in 
the German Reichstag has been followed by a note presented to us 
by the United States of America without any note or comment. The 
answer that will be given by the Government will be given in full 
accord with all our brave Allies. Naturally there has been an inter- 
change of views, not upon the note, because it has only recently 
arrived, but upon the speech which propelled it, and, inasmuch as the 
note itself is practically only a reproduction or certainly a paraphrase 
of the speech, the subject-matter of the note itself has been discussed 
informally between the Allies, and I am very glad to be able to state 
that we have each of us, separately and independently, arrived at identi- 
cal conclusions. I am very glad that the first answer that was given 
to the statement of the German Chancellor was given by France and 
by Russia. They have the unquestioned right to give the first answer 
to such an invitation. The enemy is still on their soil. Their sacri- 
fices have been greater. The answer they have given has already 
appeared in all the papers, and I simply stand here to-day on behalf 
of the Government to give a clear and definite support to the state- 
fnent which they have already made. Let us examine w-hat the state- 
ment is qnd examine it calmly. Any man or set of men who wantonly 
or without sufficient cause prolong a terrible conflict like this would 
have on his soul a crime that oceans could not cleanse. Upon the other 
hand it is equally true that any man or' set of men who from a sense 
of weariness or despair abandoned the struggle without achieving the 
high purpose for which he had entered into it would have been 
guilty of the costliest act of poltroonery ever perpetrated by any 
statesman. I should like to quote the very well-known words of 
Abraham Lincoln under similar conditions : — "We accepted this war 
for an object, a worthy object, and the war will end when that object 
is attained. Under God I hope it will never end until that time." 
Are we likely to achieve that object by accepting the invitation of 
the German Chancellor? That is the only question we have to put to 

There has been some talk about proposals of peace. What are the 
proposals? There are none. To enter, on the invitation of Germany, 
proclaiming herself victorious, without any knowledge of the pro- 
posals she proposes to make, into a conference is to put our heads 

24 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

into a noose with the rope end in the hands of Germany. This coun- 
try is not altogether without experience in these matters. This is 
not the first time we have fought a great military despotism that was 
overshadowing Europe, and it will not be the first time we shall have 
helped to overthrow military despotism. We have an uncomfortable 
historical memory of these things, and we can recall when one of 
the greatest of these despots had a purpose to serve in the working 
of his nefarious schemes. His favorite device was to appear in 
the garb of the Angel of Peace, and he usually appeared under two 
conditions. When he wished for time to assimilate his conquests or 
to reorganize his forces for fresh conquests, or, secondly, when his 
subjects showed symptons of fatigue and war weariness the appeal 
was always made in the name of humanity. He demanded an end 
to bloodshed, at which he professed himself to be horrified, but for 
which he himself was mainly responsible. Our ancestors were taken 
in once, and bitterly they and Europe rue it. The time was devoted 
to reorganizing his forces for a deadlier attack than ever upon the 
liberties of Europe, and examples of that kind cause us to regard 
this note with a considerable measure of reminiscent disquietude. 

We feel that we ought to know, before we can give favourable con- 
sideration to such an invitation, that Germany is prepared to accede 
to the only terms on which it is possible for peace to be obtained and 
maintained in Europe. What are those terms? They have been re-* 
peatedly stated by all the leading statesmen of the Allies. My 
right hon. friend has stated them repeatedly here and outside, and all 
I can do is to quote, as my right hon. friend the leader of the House 
did last week, practically the statement of the terms put forward by 
my right hon. friend — 

"Restitution, reparation, guarantee against repetition" — so that there 
shall be no mistake, and it is important that there should be no 
mistake in a matter of life and death to millions. 

Let me repeat again — complete restitution, full reparation, eflfectual 
guarantee. Did the German Chancellor use a single phrase to in- 
dicate that he was prepared to accept such a peace? Was there a 
hint of restitution, was there any suggestion of reparation, was there 
any invitation of any security for the future that this outrage on 
civilization would not be again perpetrated at the first profitable 
opportunity? The very substance and style of this speech con- 
stitutes a denial of peace on the only terms on which peace is pos- 
sible. He is not even conscious now that Germany has committed 
any offence against the rights of free nations. Listen to this from 


the note: — "Not for an instant have they (they being the Central 
Powers) swerved from the conviction that respect of the rights of 
other nations is not in any degree incompatible with their own rights 
and legitimate interests." When did they discover that? .Where 
was the respect for the rights of other nations in Belgium and Ser- 
bia? That was self-defence! Menaced, I suppose, by the over- 
whelming armies of Belgium, the Germans had been intimidated 
into invading Belgium, and the burning of Belgian cities and vil- 
lages, to the massacring of thousands of inhabitants, old and young, 
to the carrying of the survivors into bondage. Yea, and they were 
carrying them into slavery at the very moment when this note 
was being written about the unswerving conviction as to the respect 
for the root of the rights of other nations. Are these outrages the 
legitimate interest of Germany? We must know. That is not the 
moment for peace. If excuses of this kind for palpable crimes can 
be put forward two and a half years after the exposure by grim 
facts of the guarantee, is there, I ask in all solemnity, any guarantee 
that similar subterfuges will not be used in the future to overthrow 
any treaty of peace you may enter into with Prussian militarism. 

This note and that speech prove that not yet have they learned 
the very alphabet of respect for the rights of others. Without rep- 
aration, peace is impossible. Are all these outrages against humanity 
on land and on sea to be liquidated by a few pious phrases 
about humanity? Is there to be no reckoning for them? Are we 
to grasp the hand that perpetrated these atrocities in friendship with- 
out any reparation being tendered or given ? I am told that we are to 
begin, Germany helping us, to exact reparation for all future vio- 
lence committed after the war. We have begun already. It has al- 
ready cost us so much, and we must exact it now so as not to leave 
such a grim inheritance to our children. As much as we all long 
for peace, deeply as we are horrified with war, this note and the 
speech which heralded it do not afiFord us much encouragement and 
hope for an honourable and lasting peace. What hope is given 
in that speech that the whole root and cause of this great bitterness, 
the arrogant spirit of the Prussian military caste, will not be as 
dominant as ever if we patch up peace now? Why, the very speech 
in which these peace suggestions are made resound to the boast of 
Prussian military triumph. It is a long psean over the victories of 
von Hindenburg and his legions. The very appeal for peace was 
delivered ostentatiously from the triumphal chariot of Prussian mili- 

26 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

We must keep a stedfast eye upon the purpose for which we 
entered the war, otherwise the great sacrifices we have been mak- 
ing will be in vain. The German note states that it was for the 
defence of their existence and the freedom of national development 
that the Central Powers were constrained to take up arms. Such 
phrases even deceive those who pen them. They are intended to 
delude the German nation into supporting the designs of the Prus- 
sian military caste. Who ever wished to put an end to their national 
existence or the freedom of their national development? We wel- 
comed their development as long as it was on the paths of peace — 
the greater their development upon that road, the greater would all 
humanity be enriched by their efforts. That was not our desire, and 
it is not our purpose now. 

The Allies entered this war to defend Europe against the aggres- 
sion of Prussian military domination, and, having begun it, they must 
insist that the only end is the most complete and effective guarantee 
against the possibility of that caste ever again disturbing the peace of 
Europe. Prussia, since she got into the hands of that caste, has been 
a bad neighbour, arrogant, threatening, bullying, shifting boundaries 
at her will, taking one fair field after another from weaker neigh- 
bours, and adding them to her own domain. With her belt ostenta- 
tiously full of weapons of offence, and ready at a moment's notice 
to use them, she has always been an unpleasant, disturbing neigh- 
bour in Europe. She got thoroughly on the nerves of Europe. There 
was no peace near where she dwelt. It is difficult for those who are 
fortunate enough to live thousands of miles away to understand what 
it has meant to those who live near. Even here, with the protection 
of the broad seas between us, we know what a disturbing factor the 
Prussians were with their constant naval menace. 

But even we can hardly realize what it has meant to France and to 
Russia. Several times there were threats directed to them even 
within the lifetime of this generation which presented the alternative 
of war or humiliation. There were many of us who hoped that 
internal influences in Germany would have been strong enough to 
check and ultimately to eliminate these feelings. All our hopes 
proved illusory, and now that this great war has been forced by 
the Prussian military leaders upon France, Russia, Italy, and our- 
selves, it would be folly, it would be a cruel folly, not to see to 
it that this swashbuckling through the streets of Europe to the dis- 
turbance of all harmless and peaceful citizens shall be dealt with 
now as an offence against the law of nations. The mere word that 


led Belgium to her own destruction will not satisfy Europe any 
more. We all believed it. We all trusted it. It gave way at the 
first pressure of temptation, and Europe has been plunged into the 
vortex of blood. 

We will therefore wait until we hear what terms and guarantees 
the German Government oflFer other than those, better than those, 
surer than those, which she so lightly broke. Meantime, we shall 
put our trust in an unbroken Army rather than in a broken faith. 

For the moment I do not think it would be advisable for me to 
add anything upon this particular invitation. A formal reply will 
be delivered by the Allies in the course of the next few days. I shall 
therefore proceed with the other part of the task which I have in 
front of me. What is the urgent task in front of the Government? 
To complete, and make even more effective, the mobilization of all 
our national resources — a mobilization which has been going on since 
the commencement of the war — so as to enable the nation to bear 
the strain, however prolonged, and to march through to victory, 
however lengthy, and however exhausted may be the task. It is a 
gigantic task. 

Let me give this word of warning, if there be any who have 
given their confidence to the new Administration in expectation of 
a speedy victory, they will be doomed to disappointment. I am not 
going to paint a gloomy picture of the military situation. If I did 
it would not be a true picture. But I must paint a stern picture, be- 
cause that accurately represents the facts. 

There is a time in every prolonged and fierce war 
when in the passion and rage of conflict men forget the high purpose 
with which they entered it. This is a struggle for international right, in- 
ternational honour, international good faith — the channel along which 
peace, honour, and good will must flow amongst men. The em- 
bankment laboriously built up by generations of men against bar- 
barism has been broken, and had not the might of Britain passed 
into the breach, Europe would have been inundated with a flood 
of savagery and unbridled lust of power. The plain sense of fair- 
play amongst nations, the growth of an international conscience, the 
protection of the weak against the strong by the stronger, the con- 
sciousness that justice has a more powerful backing in this world 
than greed, the knowledge that any outrage upon fair dealing be- 
tween nations, great or small, will meet with prompt and meritable 
chastisement — these constitute the causeway along which humanity 

28 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

was progressing slowly to higher things. The triumph of pressure 
would sweep it all away and leave mankind to struggle helpless in the 
morass. That is why since this war began I have known but one 
political aim ; and for it I have fought with a single eye — that is the 
rescue of mankind from the most overwhelming catastrophe that has 
ever yet menaced its well-being. 

Extracts from the Speech of Former Premier Asquith in the House 
of Commons, December 19, 1916^ 

I think what I have said is sufficient to show that the use we have 
made of the methods open to us — naval, military, and economic — 
has not been ineffectual, and if further proof were required it is to 
be found in the so-called peace proposals which have been somewhat 
clumsily projected into space from Berlin. It is true that these pro- 
posals are wrapped up in the familiar dialect of Prussian arrogance, 
but how comes it that a nation which, after two years of war, pro- 
fesses itself conscious of military superiority and confident of ultimate 
victory should begin to whisper, nay, not to whisper, but to shout 
so that all the world can hear it, the word "peace"? Is it a sudden 
access of chivalry ? Why and when has the German Chancellor become 
so acutely sensitive to what he calls the dictates of humanity? No; 
without being uncharitable we may well look elsewhere for the origin 
of this pronouncement. It is born of military and economic necessity. 
When I moved the last Vote of Credit I said there was no one among 
us who did not yearn for peace, but that it must be an honourable and 
not a shamefaced peace ; it must be a peace that promised to be durable 
and not a patched-up and precarious compromise ; it must be a peace 
which achieved the purpose for which we entered on the war. Such a 
peace we would gladly accept. Anything short of it we were bound to 
repudiate by every obligation of honour, and above all by the debt we 
owe to those, and especially to the young, who have given their lives 
for what they and we believed to be a worthy cause. Since I 
spoke two months ago their ranks have been sadly and steadily rein- 
forced. I should like to refer in passing for a moment to one of them, 
a friend and colleague of mine, Lord Lucas. Apart from the ad- 
vantages of birth and fortune he was a man of singularly win- 
ning personality, fine intelligence, and with the strongest sense of 
public duty. He worked inconspicuously but hard in the early days 
of the Territorial Army. He served for some years at the War Office 
and afterwards became a member of the Cabinet. At the time of the 

^The Morning Post, London, December 20, 1916. 


Coalition he stood aside without a murmur and volunteered straight 
away for the Royal Flying Corps. Now he has met his death in a 
gallant reconnoitering raid over the German lines. He was not, I 
think, more than forty. He had a full and fruitful life. Nor can we 
or ought we forget the countless victims, both among our own people 
and among the Allies, of the ruthless and organised violation of the 
humane restrictions by which both on land and sea the necessary hor- 
rors of war have been hitherto mitigated. For my own part I say 
plainly and emphatically that I see nothing in the note of the German 
Government which gives me the least reason to believe that they are 
in a mood to give to the Allies what the last time I spoke I declared 
to be essential — reparation and security. 

If they are in the right mood — if they are prepared to give us repa- 
ration for the past and security for the future, let them say so. 
While I was at the head of the Government, on several occasions 
I indicated, I believe, in quite unambiguous language, the minimum 
of the Allies" demands, bfefore they put up their swords, as well 
as the general character of the ultimate international status upon 
which our hopes and desires are set. I have no longer authority to 
speak for the Government or the nation, but I do not suppose the 
House or the country are going back from what I said in their name 
and on their behalf. It is not we that stand in the way of peace 
when we decline, as I hope we shall, to enter blindfold into the 
parleys which start from nothing, and therefore can lead to nothing. 
Peace we all desire, but peace can only come — peace, I mean, that is 
worthy the name and that satisfies the definition of the word — peace 
will only come on the terms that atonement is made for past wrongs, 
that the weak and the downtrodden are restored, and that the faith 
of treaties and the sovereignty of public law are securely enthroned 
over the nations of the world. 

Speech of Bonar Law, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the House of 
Commons, December 21, 1916^ 

The House will readily understand that I am divided between two 
desires. It is the general desire of the House, I think, that we should 
rise to-morrow, and if that is to be done it is quite impossible that a 
subject so vast as that which we have just been discussing can be 
properly debated to-night. I am going to try to set an example by 
saying very little indeed on the burning questions which have been 

^The Times, London, December 22, 1916. 

30 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

raised in the course of the debate. In regard to the speech of the hon. 
member who has just sat down, I at least who have only run vicarious 
risks have no right to throw taunts at a man who has had his place in 
the fighting line. At the same time, I am compelled to say that if the 
spirit of the speech to which we have just listened were to permeate this 
country, then, in my belief, all the blood and treasure which have been 
spent in this war will have been spent in vain. I do not think that he 
or anyone needs to impress upon us what are the horrors of this war. 

If there were ever any who love war for itself — I have always hated 
it — if there were any whose imaginations were moved by the pomp and 
panoply of war, we know better now what it is. It is not glorious 
victories, or the hope of them, that is moving the hearts of the people 
of this country. What we think of is the men — our own nearest rela- 
tions — who are suffering the hardships which have been pointed out 
to us. What we are thinking of are the desolate homes to which life 
will never return again in this world. What we are thinking of are 
the maimed and wounded whom we see going about our streets. We 
do not love war, and if I saw any prospect of securing the objects for 
which we have been fighting by a peace to-morrow, there is no man in 
this House who would welcome it more gladly than I would. 

But what is the position? The hon. gentleman says — I hope no 
one will think that in quoting his words I have any party view in 
mind — "Let us trust to the old Liberal traditions; let us trust to the 
good hearts of those we are dealing with." Why are we in this war 
to-day? Why are we suffering the terrible agonies which this nation 
is enduring? It is because we did trust Germany; because we 
did believe that the crimes which have been committed by them would 
never be committed by any human being. It is all very well to say, 
"Let us get terms of peace." Can you get any terms of peace more 
binding than the treaty to protect the neutrality of Belgium? Can 
you come to any conclusion upon paper or by promise which will give 
us greater security than we had before this war broke out? Where 
are we to find them? I hope that not this country alone, but all the 
neutral nations of the world, will understand the position that has now 
arisen. Germany has made a proposal of peace. On what basis? On 
the basis of her victorious army. 

The hon. member who spoke last tells us that if we win the victory 
there will be conscription for ever in this country. But what will be 
the position if peace is settled on the basis of a victorious German 
army? Is there any man in this House who has honestly con- 
sidered not merely the conditions in which this war was forced on 


the world, but the way in which the war has been carried on — is there 
any man in this House who honestly believes that the dangers and 
miseries from which we have suffered can be cured in any other way 
than by making the Germans realize that {rightfulness does not pay, 
and that their militarism is not going to rule the world ? 

I ask the House to realize what it is we are fighting for. We are not 
fighting for territory ; we are not fighting for the greater strength of 
the nations who are fighting. We are fighting for two things, to put 
it in a nutshell : We are fighting for peace now, but we are also 
fighting for security for peace in the time to come. When this 
German peace proposal comes before us, not only based on Ger- 
man victories, but when they claim that they are acting on humanitarian 
grounds, when they treat it, to put it at the best, from their point of 
view, as if they and the Allies were at least equal — let the House con- 
sider what has happened in this war. Let them consider the outrages 
in Belgium, the outrages on sea and land, the massacres in Armenia, 
which Germany could have stopped at a word, if she had wished to 
do so. 

Let them realize that this war will have been fought in vain, utterly 
in vain, unless we can make sure that it shall never again be in the 
power of a single man or of a group of men to plvmge the world into 
miseries such as I have described. 

When the hon. gentleman talks about peace on these terms, I ask 
anyone in this House or in the country this question : Is there to be no 
reparation for the wrong? Is the peace to come on this basis, that the 
greatest crime in the world's history is to go absolutely unpunished? 
It is not vindictiveness to say that. It is my firm belief that unless 
all the nations of the world can be made to realize that these moral 
forces of which the hon. gentleman spoke have to be shown in action — 
unless we realize that, there never can be an enduring peace in this 
world. I am not afraid of my countrymen. We have been told 
that the troops at the front will fight to the end. to secure what 
they think is necessary as a result of this war. I am sure that they will. 
I am sure also that our fellow countrymen at home who up till now 
have made few sacrifices, except the sacrifice of those dear to them, 
are determined in this matter, and that if they can be made to believe, 
as I am sure they can, that the objects for which we are fighting can 
be secured, then there is no sacrifice which they will not be prepared 
to make. I am afraid I have said more than I intended when I rose, 
but I could not refrain from expressing what T felt on this subject. 

32 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

Swiss Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 23, 1916^ 

The President of the United States of America, with whom the 
Swiss Federal Council, guided by its warm desire that the hostilities 
may soon come to an end, has for a considerable time been in touch, 
had the kindness to apprise the Federal Council of the peace note 
sent to the Governments of the Central and Entente Powers. In that 
note President Wilson discusses the great desirability of international 
agreements for the purpose of avoiding more effectively and perma- 
nently the occurrence of catastrophes such as the one under which 
the peoples are suffering to-day. In this connection he lays particular 
stress on the necessity for bringing about the end of the present war. 
Without making peace proposals himself or offering mediation, he 
confines himself to sounding as to whether mankind may hope to 
have approached the haven of peace. 

The most meritorious personal initiative of President Wilson will 
find a mighty echo in Switzerland. True to the obligations arising 
from observing the strictest neutrality, united by the same friendship 
with the States of both warring groups of powers, situated like an 
island amidst the seething waves of the terrible world war, with its 
ideal and material in-terests most sensibly jeopardized and violated, our 
country is filled with a deep longing for peace, and ready to assist 
by its small means to stop the endless sufferings caused by the war 
and brought before its eyes by daily contact with the interned, the 
severely wounded, and those expelled, and to establish the founda- 
tions for a beneficial cooperation of the peoples. 

The Swiss Federal Council is therefore glad to seize the opportunity 
to support the efforts of the President of the United States. It would 
consider itself happy if it could act in any, no matter how modest a 
way, for the rapprochement of the peoples now engaged in the strug- 
gle, and for reaching a lasting peace. 

^The Neil York Times, December 25. 1916. 


Swiss Peace Note in support of President Wilson, December 23, 


The President of the United States of America has just addressed 
to the Governments of the Entente and to the Central Powers a note 
in favour of peace. He has been good enough to communicate 
it to the Swiss Federal Council, which, inspired by the ardent de- 
sire to see an early cessation of hostilities, got into touch with him 
as long as five weeks ago. 

In this note President Wilson recalls how desirable it is to come 
to international agreements with a view to avoiding, in a permanent 
and sure manner, such catastrophes as those which the peoples have 
to suffer to-day. Before all, he insists upon the necessity of put- 
ting an end to the present war. He himself does not formulate 
peace proposals, nor does he propose his mediation. He limits him- 
self to sounding the belligerents in order to ascertain whether hu- 
manity may hope to-day that it has advanced towards a beneficent 

The generous personal initiative of President Wilson will not fail 
to awaken a profound echo in Switzerland. Faithful to the duties 
which the strictest observation of neutrality imposes upon her, united 
by the same friendship to the two groups of Powers at present at war. 
isolated in the midst of the frightful melee of the peoples, seriously 
threatened and affected in her spiritual and material interests, our 
country longs for peace. 

Switzerland is ready to aid with all her feeble strength in putting 
an end to the sufferings of war which she sees being endured everv 
day by the interned, the seriously wounded, and the deported. She, 
too, is willing to lay the foundations for a fruitful collaboration 
of the peoples. That is why the Swiss Federal Council seizes with 
joy the opportunity to support the efforts of the President of the 
United States of America. .She would esteem herself happy if she 

"^Thc Times, London. December 26, 1916. Addressed to all the belligerent Govern- 
ments. Norway, Sweden and Denmark likewise addressed these Governments 
in support of President Wilson, in an identical note of December 22, 1916, no 
official text of which is available. These notes were briefly acknowledged by the 
Entente Allies on January 17, 1917, the four States being referred for 
fuller reply to the joint note to President Wilson of January 10, 1917. Ibid., 
January 18, 1917. For the replies of the Central Governments to the Swiss note, 
see post, pp. 36, 27. Germany, on January 1, 1917, briefly acknowledged the 
Scandinavian note, concluding with the remark : "It depends upon the reply 
of the Entente whether the attempt to give back to the world the blessings of 
peace will be crowned with success." The New York Times, January 4. 1917. 
For the Austro-Hungarian reply to the Scandinavian note, see post, p. 45. 

34 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

could, even in the most modest measure, work for the rapprochement 
of the nations at war and the estabHshment of a lasting peace. 

German Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 26, 


Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State 
[Telegram — paraphrase] 

American Embassy, 
Berlin, December 26, igi6. 

Mr. Gerard reports receipt of a note from the German Foreign 
Office, dated December 26. 1916, as follows: 

"Foreign Office, 
"Berlin, December 26, igi6. 

"With reference to the esteemed communication of December 21, 
Foreign Office No. 15118, the undersigned has the honor to reply as 
follows: To His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States of 
America, Mr. James W. Gerard. 

"The Imperial Government has accepted and considered in the 
friendly spirit which is apparent in the communication of the Presi- 
dent, noble initiative of the President looking to the creation of bases 
for the foundation of a lasting peace. The President discloses the 
aim v^'hich lies next to his heart and leaves the choice of the way open. 
A direct exchange of views appears to the Imperial Government as 
the most suitable way of arriving at the desired result. The Imperial 
Government has the honor, therefore, in the sense of its declaration of 
the 12th instant, which offered the hand for peace negotiations, to 
propose the speedy assembly, on neutral ground, of delegates of the 
warring States. 

"It is also the view of the Imperial Government that the great work 
for the prevention of future wars can first be taken up only after the 
ending of the present conflict of exhaustion. The Imperial Govern- 
ment is ready, when this point has been reached, to cooperate with 
the United States at this sublime task. 

"The undersigned, while permitting himself to have recourse to 
good offices of His Excellency the Ambassador in connection with 
the transmission of the above reply to the President of the United 

^Official print of the Department of State. 


States, avails himself of this opportunity to renew the assurances of 
his highest consideration. 


Austro-Hungarian Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, 
December 26, 1916^ 

Ambassador Pen field to the Secretary of State 


American Embassy, 
Vienna, December 26, igi6. 
Following, dated December 26, received to-day from Austro-Hun- 
garian Ministry for Foreign Affairs : 

"Aide Memoire 

"In reply to the aide memoire communicated on the 22d instant 
by His Excellency the American Ambassador, containing the pro- 
posals of the President of the United States of America for an ex- 
change of views among the powers at present at war for the eventual 
establishment of peace, the Imperial and Royal Government desires 
particularly to point out that in considermg the noble proposal of the 
President it is guided by the same spirit of amity and complaisance 
as finds expression therem. 

"The President desires to establish a basis for a lasting peace with- 
out wishing to indicate the ways and means. The Imperial and Royal 
Government considers a direct exchange of views among the bellige- 
rents to be the most suitable way of attaining this end. Adverting to 
its declaration of the 12th instant, in which it announced its readiness 
to enter into peace negotiations, it now has the honor to propose that 
representatives of the belligerent powers convene at an early date at 
some place on neutral ground. 

"The Imperial and Royal Government likewise concurs in the 
opinion of the President that only after the termination of the present 
war will it be possible to undertake the great and desirable work of the 
prevention of future wars. At an appropriate time it will be willing 
to cooperate with the United States of America for the realization of 
this noble aim." 

Pen field. 

^Official print of the Department of State. 

36 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

Turkish Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 26, 


Ambassador Elkus to the Secretary of State 


American Embassy, 
Constantinople, December 26, IQ16. 

In reply to the President's message communicated to the Sublime 
Porte on the 23d instant, Minister for Foreign Affairs handed me 
to-day a note of which the following is a translation : 

"Mr. Ambassador: In reply to the note which Your Excellency was 
pleased to deliver to me under date of the twenty-third instant, num- 
ber 2107, containing certain suggestions of the President of the United 
States, I have the honor to communicate to Your Excellency the 
following : 

"The generous initiative of the President, tending to create bases 
for the reestablishment of peace, has been received and taken into con- 
sideration by the Imperial Ottoman Government in. the same friendly 
obliging ( ?) which manifests itself in the President's communication. 
The President indicates the object which he has at heart and leaves 
open the choice of that path leading to this object. The Imperial 
Government considers a direct exchange of ideas as the most efficacious 
means of attaining the desired result. 

"In conformity with its declaration of the twelfth of this month, in 
which it stretched forth its hand for peace negotiations, the Imperial 
Government has the honor of proposing the immediate meeting, in a 
neutral country, of delegates of the belligerent powers. 

"The Imperial Government is likewise of opinion that the great work 
of preventing future wars can only be commenced after the end of the 
present struggle between the nations. When this moment shall have 
arrived the Imperial Government will be pleased [to] collaborate with 
the United States of America and with the other neutral powers in 
this sublime task. 

"(Signed) Halil.'' 

Austro-Hungarian Reply to the Swiss Peace Note, December 27, 


The undersigned, Mini.-ter for Foreign Affairs, has had the honor 

^Official print of the Department of State. 
^Le Figaro, Paris, December 28, 1916. 


to receive the esteemed note of December 23d, in which the Minister 
Plenipotentiary of Switzerland, Dr. Burckhardt, was good enough 
to communicate to us, under instructions, the desire of the Swiss 
Federal Council to endorse the initiative taken by the President of the 
United States with the belligerent Governments for the purpose of 
ending the present war and of effectively providing against all war 
in the future. 

The noble efforts of President Wilson received a most cordial wel- 
come from the Imperial and Royal Government, to which it gave ex- 
pression in the note delivered yesterday to the American Ambassador 
at Vienna, a copy of which is attached hereto with the request that the 
Minister of Switzerland be good enough to bring this document to the 
attention of the Swiss Federal Council. 

The undersigned. Minister for Foreign Affairs, permits himself to 
add that the Imperial and Royal Government views the endorsement 
by the Federal Government of the efforts of President Wilson as the 
expression of the noble and humanitarian sentiments which Switzer- 
land has manifested since the beginning of the war with regard to all 
the belligerent Powers and wliich it has put in practice in so generous 
and friendly a manner. 

German Reply to the Swiss Peace Note, December 28, 1913^ 

The Imperial Government has taken note of the fact that the 
Swiss Federal Council, as a result of its having placed itself in 
communication some time ago with the President of the United 
States of America, is also ready to take action side by side with 
them towards bringing about an understanding between the bellig- 
erent nations and towards the attainment of a lasting peace. The 
spirit of true humanity by which the step of the Swiss Federal Coun- 
cil is inspired is fully appreciated and esteemed by the Imperial Gov- 

The Imperial Government has informed the President of the United 
States that a direct exchange of views seems to them to be the most 
suitable means of obtaining the desired result. Led by the same 
considerations which caused Germany on December 12 to offer her 
hand for peace negotiations, the German Government has proposed 
an immediate meeting of delegates of all the belligerents at a neutral 

^The Times, London, December 29, 1916. 

38 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

place. In agreement with the President of the United States the 
Imperial Government is of opinion that the great work of pre- 
venting future wars can only be taken in hand after the present 
world war has terminated. As soon as that moment has come they 
will be joyfully ready to cooperate in this sublime task. 

If Switzerland, which, faithful to the country's noble traditions 
in mitigating the sufferings caused by the present war, has de- 
served imperishable merit, will also contribute to safeguarding the 
world's peace, the German nation and Government will highly wel- 
come that. 

Scandinavian Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, 
December 29, 1916^ 

It is with the liveliest interest that the Norwegian Government has 
learned of the proposals which the President of the United States 
has just made with the purpose of facilitating measures looking 
toward the establishment of a durable peace, while at the same time 
seeking to avoid any interference which could cause offense to legiti- 
mate sentiments. 

The Norwegian Government would consider itself failing in its 
duties toward its own people and toward humanity if it did not ex- 
press its deepest sympathy with all efforts which would contribute 
to put an end to the ever-increasing suffering and the moral and 
material losses. It has every hope that the initiative of President 
Wilson will arrive at a result worthy of the high purpose which in- 
spires it. 

Entente Reply to the Peace Note of Germany and Her Allies, 
December 30, 1916- 

The Allied Governments of Russia, France, Great Britain, Japan, 
Italy, Serbia, Belgium, Montenegro, Portugal and Roumania, united 
for the defence of the freedom of nations and faithful to their un- 
dertakings not to la}' down their arms except in common accord, have 
decided to return a joint answer to the illusory peace proposals which 

"^The New York Times, December 30, 1916. Identical note of Norway, Sweden 
and Denmark. 
"^The Times, London, January 1, 1917. 


have been addressed to them by the Governments of the enemy 
Powers through the intermediary of the United States, Spain, Switzer- 
land, and the Netherlands. 

As a prelude to any reply, the Allied Powers feel bound to pro- 
test strongly against the two material assertions made in the note 
from the enemy Powers, the one professing to throw upon the Al- 
lies the responsibility of the war, and the other proclaiming the 
victory of the Central Powers. 

The Allies can not admit a claim which is thus untrue in each 
particular, and is sufificient alone to render sterile all attempt at 

The Allied nations have for 30 months been engaged in [subissent 
— have had to endure] a war which they had done ever}thing to avoid. 
They have shown by their actions their devotion to peace. This devo- 
tion is as strong to-day as it was in 1914; and after the violation by 
Germany of her solemn engagements, Germany's promise is no suffi- 
cient foundation on which to re-establish the peace w^hich she broke. 
A mere suggestion, without statement of terms, that negotiations 
should be opened, is not an offer of peace. The putting for\\'ard 
by the Imperial Government of a sham [pretendiie — pretended] pro- 
posal, lacking all substance and precision, would appear to be less 
an offer of peace than a war manceuvre. 

It is founded on a calculated misinterpretation of the character of 
the struggle in the past, the present, and the future. 

As for the past, the German note takes no account of the facts, 
dates, and figures which establish . that the war was desired, pro- 
voked, and declared by Germany and Austria-Hungary. 

At the Hague Conference it was the German delegate who re- 
fused all proposals for disarmanent. In July, 1914, it was Austria- 
Hungary who, after having addressed to Serbia an unprecedented 
ultimatum, declared Vv'ar upon her in spite of the satisfaction which 
had at once been accorded. The Central Empires then rejected all 
attempts made bv the Entente to bring about a pacific solution of 
a purely local conflict. Great Britain suggested a Conference, France 
proposed an International Commission, the Emperor of Russia asked 
the German Emperor to go to arbitration, and Russia and Austria- 
Hungary came to an understanding on the eve of the conflict ; but 
to all these efforts Germany gave neither answer nor effect. Belgium 
was invaded by an Empire which had guaranteed her neutrality 
and which has had the assurance to proclaim that treaties were 
"scraps of paper" and that "necessitv knows no law." 

40 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

At the present moment these sham [pretendiies — pretended] offers 
on the part of Germany rest on a "War Map" of Europe alone, 
which represents nothing more than a superficial and passing phase 
of the situation, and not the real strength of the belligerents. A 
peace concluded upon these terms would be only to the advantage 
of the aggressors, who, after imagining that they would reach their 
goal in two months, discovered after two years that they could never 
attain it. 

As for the future, the disasters caused by the German declara- 
tion of war and the innumerable outrages committed by Germany 
and her Allies against both belligerents and neutrals demand penal- 
ties {sanctions — retribution], reparation, and guarantees; Germany 
avoids the mention of any of these. 

In reality these overtures made by the Central Powers are noth- 
ing more than a calculated attempt to influence the future course 
of the war, and to end it by imposing a German peace. 

The object of these overtures is to create dissension in public 
opinion [tronhler V opinion — disturb opinion] in allied countries. But 
that, public opinion has, in spite of all the sacrifices endured by the 
Allies, already given its answer with admirable firmness, and has de- 
nounced the empty pretence \vide — emptiness] of the declaration of 
the Enemy Powers. 

They have the further object of stiffening public opinion in Ger- 
many and in the countries allied to her ; one and all, already severely 
tried by their losses, worn out by economic pressure and crushed 
by the supreme effort which has been imposed upon their inhabitants. 

They endeavour to deceive and intimidate public opinion in neu- 
tral countries whose inhabitants have long since made up their minds 
where the initial responsibility rests, have recognized existing responsi- 
bilities, and are far too enlightened to favour the designs of Germany 
by abandoning the defence of human freedom. 

Finally, these overtures attempt to justify in advance in the eyes 
of the world a new series of crimes — submarine warfares, deporta- 
tions, forced labour and forced enlistment of inhabitants against 
their own countries, and violations of neutrality. 

Fully conscious of the gravity of this moment, but equally con- 
scious of its requirements, the Allied Governments, closely united 
to one another and in perfect s>Tnpathy with their peoples, refuse 
to consider a proposal which is empty and insincere. 

Once again the Allies declare that no peace is possible so long 
as they have not secured reparation of violated rights and liberties, 


recognition of the principle of nationalities, and of the free existence 
of small states; so long as they have not brought about a settlement 
calculated to end, once and for all, forces [causes — causes] which 
have contributed a perpetual menace to the nations [qui depiiis si 
longtemps out menace les nations — which have so long threatened 
the nations], and to afford the only effective guarantees for the future 
security of the world. 

In conclusion, the Allied Powers think it necessary to put forward 
the following considerations, which show the special situation of 
Belgium after two and a half years of war. 

In virtue of international treaties, signed by five great European 
Powers, of whom Germany was one, Belgium enjoyed, before the 
war, a special status, rendering her territory inviolable and placing 
her, under the guarantee of the Powers, outside all European con- 
flicts. She was however, in spite of these treaties, the first to suffer 
the aggression of Germany. For this reason the Belgian Govern- 
ment think it necessary to define the aims which Belgium has never 
ceased to pursue, while fighting side by side with the Entente Powers 
for right and justice. 

Belgium has always scrupulously fulfilled the duties which her 
neutrality imposed upon her. She has taken up arms to defend her 
independence and her neutrality violated by Germany, and to show 
that she remains faithful [ct pour rester Hdcle — and to be true] to 
her international obligations. On August 4, 1914, in the Reichstag, 
the German Chancellor admitted that this aggression constituted an 
injustice contrary to the laws of nations and pledged himself in 
the name of Germany to repair it. 

During two and a half years this injustice has been cruelly aggra- 
vated by the proceedings of the occupying forces, which have 
exhausted the resources of the country, ruined its industries, devas- 
tated its towns and villages, and have been responsible for innumer- 
able massacres, executions and imprisonments. At this very mom- 
ent, while Germany is proclaiming peace and humanity to the world, 
she is deporting Belgian citizens by thousands and reducing them to 

Belgium before the war asked for nothing but to live in harmony 
with all her neighbours. Her King and her Government have but 
one aim — the re-establishment of peace and justice [droit — right]. 
But they only desire [desire only] a peace which would assure to 
their country legitimate reparation, guarantees, and safeguards for 
the future. 

42 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

Bulgarian Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 30, 


Consul General Murphy to the Secretary of State 


American Consulate General, 
Sofia, December jo, igi6. 

Referring circular eighteenth. 

Bulgarian foreign minister responds following: 

"I have had the honor to receive the letter you were pleased to 
address to me on the 28th of this month to acquaint me with the step 
taken by Mr. President Wilson in favor of peace, and I hasten to com- 
municate to you the following answer of the Bulgarian Government: 

"The generous initiative of the President of the United States tend- 
ing to create bases for the restoration of peace, was cordially received 
and taken into consideration by the Royal Government in the same 
friendly spirit which is evidenced by the presidential communication. 
The President indicates the object he has at heart and leaves open the 
choice of the way leading to that object. The Royal Government 
considers a direct exchange of views to be the most efficacious way to 
attain the desired end. In accordance with its declaration of the 12th 
of December inst., which extends a hand for peace negotiations, it 
has the honor to propose an immediate meeting at one place of dele- 
gates of the belligerent powers. The Royal Government shares the 
view that the great undertaking which consists in preventing future 
war can only be initiated after the close of present conflict of nations. 
When that time comes, the Royal Government will be glad to cooperate 
with the United States of America and other neutral nations in that 
sublime endeavor. 

"Be pleased to accept, Mr. Consul General, the assurances of my 
high consideration. 

"(Signed) Doctor Radoslavoff." 


King Constantine's Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, 
December 30, 1916^ 

I wish to express, Mr. President, feehngs of sincere admiration 
and lively sympathy for the generous initiative you have just taken 

^Official print of the Department of Stale. 

^The New York Times, January 1, 1917. For the formal reply of the Greek 
Government, see post, p. 67. 


with the view to ascertaining whether the moment is not propitious 
for a negotiable end of the bloody struggle raging on earth. 

Coming from the wise statesman who, in a period so critical for 
humanity, is placed at the head of the great American Republic, this 
humanitarian effort, dictated by a spirit of high political sagacity 
and looking to an honorable peace for all, can not but contribute 
greatly toward hastening re-establishment of normal life and assuring 
through a stable state of international relations the evolution of hu- 
manity toward that progress wherein the United States of America 
always so largely shares. 

[Here follows a recital of the trials Greece has suffered from the 

Such are the conditions in which your proposals find my country. 
This short and necessarily incomplete recital is not made with the 
purpose of criticism of the cruel blows at her sovereignty and neu- 
trality from which Greece has been forced to suffer the effects. I have 
merely wished to show you, Mr. President, how much the soul of 
Greece at this moment longs for peace, and how much it appreciates 
your proposals, which constitute so important a step in the course of 
the bloody world tragedy of which we are witnesses. 


Spanish Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, December 30, 


His Majesty's Government has received through your embassy a 
copy of the note which the President of the United States has pre- 
sented to the belligerent powers, expressing the desire that an early 
opportunity should be sought for obtaining from all the nations now 
at war a declaration as to their intentions so far as regards the bases 
upon which the conflict might be terminated. This copy is accompanied 
by another note, signed by yourself, and dated December 22, in which 
your embassy, in accordance with the instructions of your Govern- 
ment, says, in the name of the President, that the moment seems to 
be opportune for action on the part of his Majesty's Government, 
and that it should, if it thinks fit, support the attitude adopted by 
the Government of the United States. 

With regard to the reasonable desire manifested by the latter Gov- 
ernment to be supported in its proposition in favor of peace, the Gov- 

^Current History, New York, February, 1917, p. 792. 

44 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

ernment of his Majesty, considering that the initiative has been 
taken by the President of the North American Republic, and that the 
diverse impressions which it has caused are already known, is of 
opinion that the action to which- the United States invites Spain 
would not have efficacy, and the more so because the Central Em- 
pires have already expressed their firm intention to discuss the con- 
ditions of peace solely with the belligerent powers. 

Fully appreciating that the noble desire of the President of the 
United States will always merit the gratitude of all nations, the Gov- 
ernment of his Majesty is decided not to dissociate itself from any 
negotiation or agreement destined to facilitate the humanitarian work 
which will put an end to the present war, but it suspends its action, 
reserving it for the moment when the efforts of all those who desire 
peace will be more useful and efficacious than is now the case, if there 
should then be reasons to consider that its initiative or its intervention 
would be profitable. 

U'ntil that moment arrives the Government of his Majesty regards 
it as opportune to declare that in all that concerns an understanding 
between the neutral powers for the defense of their material interests 
affected by the war, it is disposed now, as it has been since the begin- 
ning of the present conflict, to enter into negotiations which may tend 
toward an agreement capable of uniting all the non-belligerent powers 
which may consider themselves injured or may regard it as necessary 
to remedy or diminish such injuries. 

Declaration of Premier Radoslavoff in the Bulgarian Sobranje, 
December 30, 1916^ 

I can assure you that Bulgaria's work has been brought to a success- 
ful conclusion. To those who assert that we are asking too much I 
reply that we are no Chauvinists, but that we are aware of the aspira- 
tions of the Bulgarian people. You know from the Royal Manifesto 
issued when war was declared what Bulgarian aspirations are. I am 
not obliged to reply to each speaker individually. 

[Dr. Radoslavoff' declared that the peace proposals had been received 
with enthusiasm in neutral countries. Besides Switzerland and the 
Scandinavian countries, he understood that Holland and Spain were 
preparing to support the demarche of President \A'ileoii. Bulgaria's 

^T/ie Titties, London, January 2. 1917. 


alliance with the Central Empires and Turkey had not weakened. 
They were ready to conclude peace because they wished to see an 
end of war. They would make concessions in the name of humanity 
and for the welfare of all nations.] 

Austro-Hungarian Reply to the Scandinavian Peace Note, January 

1, 1917^ 

The Austro-Hungarian Government is glad to state that its views in 
this matter agree with yours. It has sympathetically accepted President 
Wilson's suggestions, and therefore with satisfaction sees Sweden, 
Denmark, and Norway support President Wilson's initiative. 

Statement of Emile Vandervelde, Belgian Minister of State, on 
the Peace Proposals- 

From clandestine inquiries which I have been able to make among 
the popular leaders in the occupied part of Belgium since the pub- 
lication of the German peace proposals I believe that the Belgian 
people are in complete accord with their Government in the atti- 
tude it has assumed towards the Chancellor's note. There must be 
no annexation if the peace following this war is to prevent other 
wars. That is one of the reasons wh}- it would be futile even to 
comment upon the suggestion from German sources that the Germans 
are willing to abandon Belgium in exchange for the Belgian Congo. 

There is no complaint of your President's action among the Bel- 
gian people. We believe that Mr. Wilson acted wholly in the spirit 
of humanitarianisni, and that the steps he has taken will help rather 
than harm our cause. A comparison of the Allies' expression of 
views and our enemies' will suffice, I think, to convince the United 
States of the insincerity of Germany's attitude and the impossibility 
of discussing her present proposals. 

It is very possible, however, that as her need for peace, which I 
believe to be very great, grows more pronounced, Germany will come 

^The New York Times, January 2, 1917. See footnote, ante, p. 33. 
^The Times, London, January 9, 1917. 

46 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

forward with more reasonable proposals. It would then become 
necessary for us to scrutinize such future offers as closely as we 
have those already formulated and declined. 

The incredible, brutal slave traffic in which the Germans are now 
engaged in Belgium, against which your Government has raised its 
voice, has only served to increase my compatriots' horror of a peace 
imposed by Berlin. 

Chinese Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, January 9, 1917^ 

Minister Reinsch to the Secretary of State 


American Legation, 
Peking, January p, igiy. 

Minister for Foreign Affairs has written as follows in answer to 
my note transmitting the President's note to the belligerent powers: 

*T have examined, with the care which the gravity of the questions 
raised demands, the note concerning peace which President Wilson 
has addressed to the Governments of the Allies and the Central 
Powers now at war and the text of which Your Excellency has been 
good enough to transmit to me under instructions of yeur Govern- 

"China, a nation traditionally pacific, has recently again manifested 
her sentiments in concluding treaties concerning the pacific settlement 
of international disputes, responding thus to the (. . . .)^ of the 
peace conferences held at The Hague. 

"On the other hand the present war, by its prolongation, has seri- 
ously affected the interests of China more so perhaps than those of 
other powers which have remained neutral. She is at present at a 
time of reorganization which demands economically and industrially 
the cooperation of foreign countries, cooperation which a large num- 
ber of them are unable to accord on accoimt of the war in which 
they are engaged. 

"In manifesting her sympathy for the spirit of the President's note, 
having in view the ending as soon as possible of the hostilities, China 

^Official print of the Department of State. 
^Apparent omission. 


is but acting in confomiity with not only her interest but also with 
her profound sentiments. 

"On account of the extent which modern wars are apt to assume 
and the repercussion which they bring about, their effects are no 
longer limited to belligerent states. All countries are interested in 
seeing wars becoming as rare as possible. Consequently China can 
not but show satisfaction with the views of the Government and peo- 
ple of the United States of America who declare themselves ready 
and even eager to cooperate when the war is over by all proper 
means to assure the respect of the principle of the equality of nations 
whatever their power may be and to relieve them of the peril of 
wrong and violence. China is ready to join her efforts with theirs 
for the attainment of such results which can only be obtained through 
the help of all." 


Entente Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, January 10, 1917^ 

Ambassador Sharp to the Secretary of State 

American Embassy, 
Paris, January lo, 1917. 
The following is the translation of the French note: 
"The Allied Governments have received the note which was de- 
livered to them in the name of the Government of the United States 
on the nineteenth of December, 1916. They have studied it with the 
care imposed upon them both by the exact realization which they have 
of the gravity of the hour and by the sincere friendship which attaches 
them to the American people. 

"In general way they wish to declare that they pay tribute to the 
elevation of the sentiment with which the American note is inspired 
and that they associate themselves with all their hopes with the project 
for the creation of a league of nations to insure peace and justice 
throughout the world. They recognize all the advantages for the cause 
of humanity and civilization which the institution of international 
agreements, destined to avoid violent conflicts between nations would 
prevent; agreements which must imply the sanctions necessary to in- 
sure their execution and thus to prevent an apparent security from 
only facilitating new aggressions. But a discussion of future arrange- 

^Official print of the Department of State. 

48 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

ments destined to insure an enduring peace presupposes a satisfactory 
settlement of the actual conflict ; the Allies have as profound a desire 
as the Government of the United States to terminate as soon as pos- 
sible a war for which the Central Empires are responsible and which 
inflicts such cruel sufferings upon humianity. But they believe that it 
is impossible at the present moment to attain a peace which will assure 
them reparation, restitution and such guarantees to which they are 
entitled by the aggression for which the responsibility rests with the 
Central Powers and of which the principle itself tended to ruin the 
security of Europe ; a peace which would on the other hand permit 
the establishment of the future of European nations on a solid basis. 
The Allied nations are conscious that they are not fighting for selfish 
interests, but above all to safeguard the independence of peoples, of 
right and of humanity. 

"The Allies are fully aware of the losses and suffering which the 
war causes to neutrals as well as to belligerents and they deplore them ; 
but they do not hold themselves responsible for them, having in no way 
either willed or provoked this war, and they strive to reduce these 
damages in the measure compatible with the inexorable exigencies of 
their defense against the violence and the wiles of the enemy. 

"It is with satisfaction therefore that they take note of the declara- 
tion that the American communication is in nowise associated in its 
origin with that of the Central Powers transmitted on the eighteenth 
of December by the Government of the United States. They did not 
doubt moreover the resolution of that Government to avoid even the 
appearance of a support, even moral, of the authors responsible for 
the war. 

"The Allied Governments believe that they must protest in the 
most friendly but in the most specific manner against the assimilation 
established in the American note between the two groups of bellige- 
rents; this assimilation, based upon public declarations by the Central 
Powers, is in direct opposition to the evidence, both as regards respon- 
sibility for the past and as concerns guarantees for the future; 
President Wilson in mentioning it certainly had no intention of asso- 
ciating himself with it. 

"If there is an historical fact established at the present date, it is 
the willful aggression of Germany and Austria-Hungary to insure 
their hegemony over Europe and their economic domination over the 
world. Germany proved by her declaration of war, by the immediate- 
violation of Belgium and Luxemburg and by her manner of conducting 
the war, her simulating contempt for all principles of humanity and all 


respect for small States; as the conflict developed the attitude of the 
Central Powers and their Allies has been a continual defiance of 
humanity and civilization. Is it necessary to recall the horrors which ac- 
companied the invasion of Belgium and Servia, the atrocious regime 
imposed upon the invaded countries, the massacre of hundreds of 
thousands of inofifensive Armenians, the barbarities perpetrated against 
the populations of Syria, the raids of Zeppelins on open towns, the 
destruction by submarines of passenger steamers and of merchantmen 
even under neutral flags, the cruel treatment inflicted upon prisoners 
of war, the juridical murders of Miss Cavel, of Captain Fryatt, the 
deportation and the reduction to slavery of civil populations, et cetera.^ 
The execution of such a series of crimes perpetrated without any re- 
gard for universal reprobation fully explains to President Wilson the 
protest of the Allies. 

"They consider that the note which they sent to the United States 
in reply to the German note will be a response to the questions put 
by the American Government, and according to the exact words of the 
latter, constitute 'a. public declaration as to the conditions upon which 
the war could be terminated.' 

"President Wilson desires more : he desires that the belligerent 
powers openly aflirm the objects which they seek by continuing the 
war ; the Allies experience no difficulty in replying to this request. 
Their objects in the war are well known ; they have been formulated 
on many occasions by the chiefs of their divers Governments. Their 
objects in the war will not be made known in detail with all the 
equitable compensations and indemnities for damages suffered until 
the hour of negotiations. But the civilized w^orld knows that they 
imply in all necessity and in the first instance the restoration of 
Belgium, of Servia, and of Montenegro and the indemnities which 
are due them; the evacuation of the invaded territories of France, of 
Russia and of Roumania with just reparation ; the reorganization of 
Europe guaranteed by a stable regime and founded as much upon 
respect of nationalities and full security and liberty economic develop- 
ment, which all nations, great or small, possess, as upon territorial 
conventions and international agreements suitable to guarantee terri- 
torial and maritime frontiers against unjustified attacks ; the restitu- 
tion of provinces or territories wrested in the past from the Allies by 
force or against the will of their populations, the liberation of Italians, 
of Slavs, of Roumanians and of Tcheco Slovaques from foreign 
domination; the enfranchisement of populations subject to the bloody 
tyranny of the Turks ; the expulsion from Europe of the Ottoman 

50 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

Empire decidedly (. . .)^ to western civilization. The intentions 
of His Majesty the Kmperor of Russia regarding Poland have been 
clearly indicated in the proclamation which he has just addressed to 
his armies. It goes without saying that if the Allies wish to liberate 
Europe from the brutal covetousness of Prussian militarism, it never 
has been their design, as has been alleged, to encompass the extermina- 
tion of the German peoples and their political disappearance. That 
which they desire above all is to insure a peace upon the principles of 
liberty and justice, upon the inviolable fidelity to international obliga- 
tion with which the Government of the United States has never ceased 
to be inspired. 

"United in the pursuits of this supreme object the Allies are deter- 
mined, individually and collectively, to act with all their power and 
to consent to all sacrifices to bring to a victorious close a conflict upon 
which they are convinced not only their own safety and prosperity 
depends but also the future of civilization itself." 


Belgian Note supplementary to the Entente Reply to President 
Wilson's Peace Note, January 10, 191 7^ 

Ambassador Sharp to the Secretary of State 


American Embassy, 
Paris, January lo, ipiy. 

Copy of Belgian note as follows: 

"The Government of the King, which has associated itself with 
the answer handed by the President of the French Council to the 
American Ambassador on behalf of all, is particularly desirous of 
paying tribute to the sentiment of humanity which prompted the 
President of the United States to send his note to the belligerent 
powers and it highly esteems the friendship expressed for Belgium 
through his kindly intermediation. It desires as much as Mr. Wood- 
row Wilson to see the present war ended as early as possible. 

"But the President seems to believe that the statesmen of the two 
opposing camps pursue the same objects of war. The example of 
Belgium unfortunately demonstrates that this is in no wise the fact. 

^Apparent omission. 

^Official print of the Department of State. 


Belgium has never, like the Central Powers, aimed at conquests. The 
barbarous fashion in which the German Government has treated, and 
is still treating, the Belgium nation, does not permit the supposition 
that Germany will preoccupy herself with guaranteeing in the future 
the rights of the weak nations which she has not ceased to trample 
under foot since the war, let loose by her, began to desolate Europe. 
On the other hand, the Government of the King has noted with pleas- 
ure and with confidence the assurances that the United States is im- 
patient to cooperate in the measures which will be taken after the 
conclusion of peace, to protect and guarantee the small nations against 
violence and oppression. 

"Previous to the German ultimatum, Belgium only aspired to live 
upon good terms with all her neighbors ; she practiced with scrupulous 
loyalty towards each one of them the duties imposed by her neutrality. 
In the same manner she has been rewarded by Germany, for the confi- 
dence she placed in her, through which, from one day to the other, 
without any plausible reason, her neutrality was violated, and the 
Chancellor of the Empire when announcing to the Reichstag this viola- 
tion of right and of treaties, was obliged to recognize the iniquity of 
such an act and predetermine that it would be repaired. But the Ger- 
mans, after the occupation of Belgian territory, have displayed no 
better observance of the rules of international law or the stipulations 
of the Hague Convention. They have, by taxation, as heavy as it 
is arbitrary, drained the resources of the country; they have inten- 
tionally ruined its industries, destroyed whole cities, put to death and 
imprisoned a considerable number of inhabitants. Even now, while 
they are loudly proclaiming their desire to put an end to the horrors of 
war, they increase the rigors of the occupation by deporting into 
servitude Belgian workers by the thousands. 

**If there is a country which has the right to say that it has taken 
up arms to defend its existence, it is assuredly Belgium. Compelled 
to fight or to submit to shame, she passionately desires that an end 
be brought to the unprecedented sufferings of her population. But 
she could only accept a peace which would assure her, as well as 
equitable reparation, security and guarantees for the future. 

"The American people, since the beginning of the war. has mani- 
fested for the oppressed Belgian nation, its most ardent sympathy. 
It is an American committee, the Commission for Relief in Belgium 
which, in close union with the Government of the King and the Na- 
tional Committee, displays an untiring devotion and marvelous activ- 
ity in re-victualling Belgium. The Government of the King is happy 

52 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

to avail itself of this opportunity to express its profound gratitude to 
the Commission for Relief as well as to the generous Americans 
eager to relieve the misery of the Belgian population. Finally, no- 
where more than in the United .States have the abductions and de- 
portations of Belgian civilians provoked such a spontaneous move- 
ment of protestation and indignant reproof. 

"These facts, entirely to the honor of the American nation, allow 
the Government of the King to entertain the legitimate hope that at 
the time of the definitive settlement of this long war, the voice of the 
Entente Powers will find in the United States a unanimous echo to 
claim in favor of the Belgian nation, innocent victim of German 
ambition and covetousness, the rank and the place which its irre- 
proachable past, the valor of its soldiers, its fidelity to honor and its 
remarkable faculties for work assign to it among the civilized nations." 


German Note to Neutral Pow^ers relative to the Entente Reply to 
the Peace Proposals, January 11, 1917^ 

The Imperial Government is aware that the Government of the 
United States of America, the Royal Spanish Government, and the 
Swiss Government have received the reply of their enemies to the 
note of December 12, in which Germany, in concert with her allies, 
proposed to enter forthwith into peace negotiations. Our enemies 
rejected this proposal, arguing that it was a proposal without sin- 
cerity and without meaning. The form in which they couched their 
communication makes a reply to them impossible. But the German 
Government thinks it important to communicate to the neutral Powers 
its view of the state of afifairs. 

The Central Powers have no reason to enter again into a con- 
troversy regarding the origin of the world war. History will judge 
on whom the blame of the war falls. Its judgment will as little 
pass over the encircling policy of England, the revanche policy of 
France, and Russia's aspiration after Constantinople as over the 
provocation by Serbia, the Serajevo murders, and the complete Rus- 
sian mobilization, which meant war on Germany. 

Germany and her allies, who were obliged to take up arms to 
defend their freedom and their existence, regard this, which was 

'^The Times, LxDndon, January 13, 1917. 


their war aim, as attained. On the other hand, the enemy Powers 
have departed more and more from the realization of their plans, 
which, according to the statements of their responsible statesmen, 
are directed, among other things, toward the conquest of Alsace- 
Lorraine and several Prussian provinces, the humiliation artd diminu- 
tion of Austria-Hungary, the disintegration of Turkey, and the dis- 
memberment of Bulgaria. In view of such war aims, the demand 
for reparation, restitution, and guarantees in the mouth of our enemies 
sounds strange. 

Our enemies describe the peace offer of the four allied powers as 
a war manoeuvre. Germany and her allies most emphatically pro- 
test against such a falsification of their motives, which they openly- 
stated. Their conviction was that a just peace acceptable to all bel- 
ligerents was possible, that it could be brought about, and that fur- 
ther bloodshed could not be justified. Their readiness to make known 
their peace conditions without reservation at the opening of nego- 
tiations disproves any doubt of their sincerity. 

Our enemies, in. whose power it was to examine the real value 
of our offer neither made any examination nor made counter-pro- 
posals. Instead of that, they declared that peace was impossible so 
long as the restoration of violated rights and liberties, the acknowl- 
edgment of the principle of nationalities, and the free existence of 
small States were not guaranteed. The sincerity which our enemies 
deny to the proposal of the four allied Powers can not be allowed 
by the world to these demands if it recalls the fate of the Irish peo- 
ple, the destruction of the freedom and independence of the Boer 
Republics, the subjection of Northern Africa by England. France 
and Italy, the suppression of foreign nationalities in Russia, and, 
finally, the oppression of Greece, which is unexampled in history. 

Moreover, in regard to the alleged violation of international rights 
by the four allied Powers, those Powers which, from the beginning 
of the war, have trampled upon right and torn up the treaties on 
which it was based have no right to protest. Already in the first 
weeks of the war England had renounced the Declaration of London, 
the contents of which her own delegates had recognized as binding 
in international law, and in the further course of the war she most 
seriously violated the Declaration of Paris, so that, owing to ar- 
bitrary measures, a state of lawlessness began in the war at sea. 
The starvation campaign against Germany and the pressure on neu- 
trals exercised in England's interest are no less grossly contrary to 
the rules of international law than to the ^aws of humanitv. 

54 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

Equally inconsistent with international law and the principles of 
civilization is the employment of coloured troops in Europe and the 
extension of the war to Africa, which has been brought about in 
violation of existing treaties. It undermines the reputation of the 
white race in this part of the globe. The inhumane treatment of 
the prisoners, especially in Africa and Russia, the deportation of 
the civil population from East Prussia, Alsace-Lorraine, Galicia, and 
the Bukovina are further proofs of our enemies' disregard for right 
and civilization. 

At the end of their note of December 30, our enemies refer to 
the special position of Belgium. The Imperial Government is un- 
able to admit that the Belgian Government has always observed its 
obligations. Already before the war Belgium was under the influence 
of England and leaned towards England and France, thereby her- 
self violating the spirit of the treaties which guaranteed her inde- 
pendence and neutrality. 

Twice the Imperial Government declared to the Belgian Govern- 
ment that it was not entering Belgium as an enemy, and entreated 
it to save the country from the horrors of war. In this case it of- 
fered Belgium a guarantee for the full integrity and independence 
of the kingdom and to pay for all the damage w^hich might be caused 
by German troops marching through the country. It is known that 
in 1887 the Royal British Government was determined not to op- 
pose on these conditions the claiming of a right of way through 
Belgium. The Belgian Government refused the repeated offer of 
the Imperial Government. On it and on those Powers who induced 
it to take up this attitude falls the responsibility for the fate which 
befell Belgium. 

The accusation about German war methods in Belgium and the 
measures which were taken there in the interest of military safety 
have been repeatedly repudiated as untrue by the Imperial Gov- 
ernment. It again emphatically protests against these calumnies. 

Germany and her. allies made an honest attempt to terminate the 
war and pave the way for an understanding among the belligerents. 
The Imperial Government declares that it solely depended on the 
decision of our enemies whether the road to peace should be taken 
or not. The enemy Governments have refused to take this road. 
On them falls the full responsibility for the continuation of bloodshed. 

But the four allied Powers will prosecute the fight with calm trust 
and confidence in their good cause until a peace has been gained 
which guarantees to their own peoples honour, existence, freedom, 


and development, and gives all the Powers of the European Con- 
tinent the benefit of working united in mutual esteem at the solution of 
the great problems of civilization. 

Extracts from the Austro-Hungarian Note to Neutral Powers rela- 
tive to the Entente Reply to the Peace Proposals, January 11, 

In the years preceding the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia 
the Monarchy displayed sufficient proof of its forbearance toward 
the ever-increasing hostility, aggressive intentions, and intrigues of 
Serbia until the moment when finally the notorious murders at Sera- 
jevo made further indulgence impossible. 

The question as to on which side the military situation is the 
stronger appears idle, and may confidently be left to the judgment of 
the world. The four allied powers now look on their purely defen- 
sive war aims as attained, while their enemies travel further and 
further from the realization of their plans. 

For the enemy to characterize our peace proposals as meaningless 
before peace negotiations were begun, and so long as, therefore, our 
peace conditions are unknown, is merely to make an arbitrary as- 
sertion. We had made full preparations for the acceptance of our 
offer to make known our peace conditions on entering into the ne- 
gotiations. We declared ourselves ready to end the war by a ver- 
bal exchange of views with the enemy Governments, and it depended 
solely on our enemies' decision whether peace were brought about or 

Before God and mankind we repudiate responsibility for continu- 
ance of the war. 

Premier Lloyd George's Guildhall Address, January 11, 1917" 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his extremely lucid and im- 
pressive speech, has placed before you the business side of his proposal, 
and I think you will agree with me, after his explanation of his scheme, 
that he has offered for subscription a Loan which contains all the 
essential ingredients of an attractive investment. They are the most 

^The New York Times, January 13, 1917. 
^The Times, London, January 12, 1917. 

56 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

generous terms the Government could offer without injury to the 
taxpayer. I agree that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was right 
in offering such liberal terms, because it is important that we should 
secure a big loan now — not merely in order to enable us to finance 
the war effectively, but as a demonstration of the continued resolve of 
this country to prosecute it. And it is upon that aspect of the ques- 
tion that I should like to say a few words. 

The German Kaiser a few days ago sent a message to his people 
that the Allies had rejected his peace oft'er. He did so in order to 
drug those whom he can no longer dragoon. Where are those offers? 
We have asked for them. We have never seen them. We were 
not offered terms ; we were offered a trap baited with fair words. 
They tempted us once, but the Lion has his eyes open now. We 
have rejected no terms that we have ever seen. Of course, it would 
suit them to have peace at the present moment on their own terms. 
We all want peace ; but when we get it, it must be a real peace. 
The Allied Powers separately, and in council together, have come 
to the same conclusion. Knowing well what war means, knowing 
especially what this war means in suffering, in burdens, in horror, 
they have decided that even war is better than peace — peace at the 
Prussian price of domination over Europe. We made that clear in 
our reply to Germany ; we made it still clearer in our reply to the 
United States of America. Before we attempt to rebuild the temple 
of peace we must see now that the foundations are solid. They 
were built before upon the shifting sands of Prussian faith ; hence- 
forth, when the time for rebuilding comes, it must be on the rock 
of vindicated justice. 

I have just returned from a council of war of the four great Allied 
countries upon whose shoulders most of the burden of this terrible 
war falls. I can not give you the conclusions: there might be useful 
information in them for the enemy. There were no delusions as 
to the magnitude of our task ; neither were there any doubts about 
the result. I think I could say what was the feeling of every man 
there. It was one of the most business-like conferences that I ever 
attended. We faced the whole situation, probed it thoroughly, looked 
the difficulties in the face, and made arrangements to deal with them 
— and we separated more confident than ever. All felt that if vic- 
tory were difficult, defeat was impossible. There was no flinching, 
no wavering, no faint-heartedness, no infirmity of purpose. There 
was a grim resolution at all costs that we must achieve the high aim 
with which we accepted the challenge of the Prussian military caste 


and rid Europe and the world for ever of its menace. No countr\ 
could have refused that challenge without loss of honour. No one 
could have rejected it without impairing national security. No one 
could have failed to take it up without forfeiting something which 
is of greater value to every free and self-respecting people than 
life itself. 

These nations did not enter into the war light-heartedly. They 
did not embark upon this enterprise without knowing what it really 
meant. They were not induced by the prospect of an easy victory. 
Take this country. The millions of our men who enrolled in the 
Army enlisted after the German victories of August, 1914 — when 
they knew the accumulative and concentrated power of the German 
military machine. That is when they placed their lives at the disposal 
of their country. What about other nations? They knew what 
they were encountering, that they were fighting an organization 
which had been perfected for generations by the best brains of 
Prussia, perfected with one purpose — the subjugation of Europe. 
And yet they faced it. Why did they do it? I passed through 
hundreds of miles of the beautiful lands of France and of Italy, and 
as I did so I asked myself this question, Why did the peasants leave 
by the million these sunny vineyards and cornfields in France — 
why did they quit these enchanting valleys, with their comfort, and 
their security, their calm in Italy — in order to face the dreary and 
wild horrors of the battlefield? They did it for one purpose and 
one purpose only. They were not driven to the slaughter by kings. 
These are great democratic countries. No Government could have 
lasted twenty-four hours that had forced them into an abhorrent war. 
Of their own free will they embarked upon it, because they knew a 
fundamental issue had been raised which no country could have 
shirked without imperilling all that has been won in the centuries 
of the past and all that remains to be won in the ages of the future. 

That is why, as the war proceeds, and the German purpose be- 
comes more manifest, the conviction has become deeper in the minds 
of these people that they must break their way through to victory in 
order to save Europe from unspeakable despotism. That was the spirit 
which animated the Allied Conference at Rome last week. 

But I will tell you one thing that struck me, and strikes me more 
and more each time that I visit the Continent and attend these con- 
ferences. That is the increasing extent to which the Allied peo- 
ples are looking to Great Britain. They are trusting to her rugged 
strength, to her great resources, more and more. To them she 

58 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

looks like a great tower in the deep. She is becoming more and 
more the hope of the oppressed and the despair of the oppressor, 
and I feel more and more confident that we shall not fail the peo- 
ple who put their trust in us. When that arrogant Prussian caste 
flung the signature of Britain to a treaty into the waste-paper basket 
as if it were of no account, they knew not the pride of the land 
they were treating with such insolent disdain. They know it now. 
Our soldiers and sailors have taught them to respect it. 

You have heard the eloquent account of the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer of the achievements of our soldiers. Our sailors are 
gallantly defending the honour of our country on the high seas 
of the world. They have strangled the enemy's commerce, and will 
continue to do so, in spite of all the piratical devices of the foe. 
In 1914 and 1915, for two years, a small, ill-equipped Army held 
up the veterans of Prussia with the best equipment in Europe. In 
1916 they hurled them back, and delivered a blow from which they 
are reeling. In 1917 the Armies of Britain will be more formidable 
than ever in training, in efficiency, and in equipment, and you may 
depend upon it that if we give them the necessary support they 
will cleave a road to victory through all the dangers and perils of 
the next few months. 

But we must support them. They are worth it. Have you ever 
talked to a soldier who has come back from the front? There is 
not one of them who will not tell you how he is encouraged and 
sustained by hearing the roar of the guns behind him. This is what 
I want to see: I want to see cheques hurtling through the air, fired 
from the city of London, from every city, town, village, and ham- 
let throughout the land, fired straight into the intrenchments of the 
enemy. Every well-directed cheque, well loaded, properly primed, 
is a more formidable weapon of destruction than a 12-in. shell. It 
clears the path of the barbed wire entanglements for our gallant 
fellows to march through. A big loan helps to ensure victory. A 
big loan will also shorten the war. It will help to save life; it will 
help to save the British Empire ; it will help to save Europe ; it will 
help to save civilization. That is why we want the country to rise 
to this occasion, and show that the old spirit of Britain, represented 
by this great British meeting, is still as alive and as alert and as potent 
as ever. 

I want to appeal to the men at home, and to the women also. 
They have done their part nobly. A man who has been Munitions 
Minister for twelve months must feel a debt of gratitude to the women 


for what they have done. They have helped to win, and without 
them we could not have done it. I want to make a special appeal, 
or, rather, to enforce the special appeal of the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer. Let no money be squandered in luxury and indulgence 
which can be put into the fight — and it can, every penny of it. 
Every ounce counts in this fight. Do not waste it. Do not throw 
it away. Put it there to help the valour of our brave young boys. 
Back them up. Let us contribute to assist them. Have greater 
pride in them than in costlier garments. They will feel prouder 
of their mothers to-day, and their pride in them will grow in years 
to come when the best garments will have rotted. It will glisten 
and glitter. It will improve with the years. They can put it on 
with old age and say, "This is something I contributed in the Great 
War," and they will be proud of it. 

Men and women of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, the 
first charge — the first charge — upon all your surplus money over 
your needs for yourselves and your children should be to help those 
gallant young men of ours who have tendered their lives for the cause 
of humanity. The more we get the surer the victory. The more we 
get the shorter the war. The rtiore we get the less it will cost in treas- 
ure, and the greatest treasure of all, brave blood. The more we give the 
more will the nation gain. You will enrich it by your contributions 
— by your sacrifices. Extravagance — I want to bring this home to 
every man and woman throughout these Islands — extravagance dur- 
ing the war costs blood — costs blood. And what blood? Valiant 
blood — the blood of heroes. It would be worth millions to save one 
of them. A big loan will save myriads of them ; help them not merely 
to win; help them to come home to shout for the victory which they 
have won. It means better equipment for our troops. It means 
better equipment for the Allies as well, and this — and I say it now for 
the fiftieth, if not for the hundredth time — is a war of equipment. 
That is why we are appealing for your subscriptions. We can do 
that. Most of us could not do more. But what we can do it is our 
duty, it is our pride to do. 

I said it was a war of equipment. Why are the Germans pressing 
back our gallant Allies in Roumania? It is not that they are bet- 
ter fighters. They are certainly not. The Roumanian peasant has 
proved himself to be one of the doughtiest fighters in the field when 
he has a chance, poor fellow, and he never had much. As for the 
Russian, the way in which with bare breast he has fought for two 
years and a half, with inferior gims, insufficient rifles, inadequate sup- 

60 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

plies of ammunition, is one of the world's tales of heroism. Let us 
help to equip them, and there will be another story to tell soon. 

That is why I am glad to follow the Chancellor of the Exchequer 
in the appeal which he has made to the patriotism of our race. 
But with true Scottish instincts he put the appeal to produce 
first. He laid it down as a good foundation for patriotism and re- 
served that for his peroration. I shall reverse the order, belonging 
to a less canny race. I want to say it is a good investment. After 
all, the old country is the best investment in the world. It was a 
sound concern before the war; it will be sounder and safer than 
ever after the war, and especially safer. I do not know the nation 
that will care to touch it after the war. They had forgotten what we 
were like in those days ; it will take them a long time to forget this 
lesson. It will be a safer investment than ever and a sounder one. 

Have you been watching what has been going on? Before the 
war we had a good many shortcomings in our business, our com- 
merce and our industry. The war is setting them all right in the 
most marvelous way. You ask great business men like my friend 
Lord Pirrie, whom I see there in the corner, what is going on in the 
factories throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Old machinery 
scrapped, the newest and the best set up ; slip-shod, wasteful methods 
also scrapped, hampering customs discontinued ; millions brought into 
the labour market to help to produce who before were merely con- 
sumers. I do not know what the National Debt will be at the end 
of this war but I will make this prediction. Whatever it is, what 
is added in real assets to the real riches of the nation will be infinitely 
greater than any debt that we shall ever acquire. The resources 
of the nation in every direction developed, directed, perfected, the 
nation itself disciplined, braced up, quickened, we have become a more 
alert people. We have thrown off useless tissues. We are a nation 
that has been taking exercise. We are a different people. 

I will tell you another difference. The Prussian menace was a 
running mortgage which detracted from the value of our national 
security. Nobody knew what it meant. We know pretty well now. 
You could not tell whether it meant a mortgage of hundreds of mil- 
lions, or thousands of millions, and I know you could not tell it 
would not mean ruin. That mortgage will be cleared off forever 
and there will be a better security, a better, sounder, safer security, 
at a better rate of interest. The world will then be able, when the 
war is over, to attend to its business. There will be no war or 
rumours of war to disturb and to distract it. We can build up ; 


we can reconstruct ; we can till and cultivate and enrich ; and the 
burden and terror and waste of war will have gone. The best se- 
curity for peace will be that nations will band themselves together 
to punish the first peace-breaker. In the armouries of Europe every 
weapon will be a sword of justice. In the government of men every 
army will be the constabulary of peace. 

There were men who hoped to see this achieved in the ways of 
peace. We were disappointed. It was ordained that we should not 
reach that golden era except along a path which itself was paved with 
gold, yea, and cemented with valiant blood. There are myriads who 
have given the latter, and there are myriads more ready for the sac- 
rifice if their country needs it. It is for us to contribute the former. 
Let no man and no woman, in this crisis of their nation's fate, through 
indolence, greed, avarice, or selfishness, fail. And if they do their 
part, then, when the time comes for the triumphal march through the 
darkness and the terror of night into the bright dawn of the morning 
of the new age, they will each feel that they have their share in it. 

British Note of January 13, 1917, amplifying the Entente Reply to 
President Wilson's Peace Note^ 

In sending you a translation of the Allied note I desire to make the 
following observations, which you should bring to the notice of the 
United States Government. 

I gather from the general tenour of the President's note that, while 
he is animated by an intense desire that peace should come soon and 
that when it comes it should be lasting, he does not, for the moment 
at least, concern himself with the terms on which it should be ar- 
ranged. His Majesty's Government entirely share the President's 
ideals ; but they feel strongly that the durability of the peace must 
largely depend on its character and that no stable system of interna- 
tional relations can be built on foundations which are essentially and 
hopelessly defective. 

This becomes clearly apparent if we consider the main conditions 
which rendered possible the calamities from which the world is now 
suflfering. These were the existence of a Great Power consumed with 
the lust of domination in the midst of a community of nations ill- 

^The Times, London, January 18, 1917. 

52 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

prepared for defence, plentifully supplied, indeed, with international 
laws, but with no machinery for enforcing them, and weakened by 
the fact that neither the boundaries of the various States nor their 
internal constitution harmonized with the aspirations of their con- 
stituent races or secured to them just and equal treatment. 

That this last evil would be greatly mitigated if the Allies secured 
the changes in the map of Europe outlined in their joint note is 
manifest, and I need not labour the point. 

It has been argued, indeed, that the expulsion of the Turks from 
Europe forms no proper or logical part of this general scheme. The 
maintenance of the Turkish Empire was, during many generations, 
regarded by statesmen of world-wide authority as essential to the 
maintenance of European peace. Why, it is asked, should the cause 
of peace be now associated with a complete reversal of this traditional 
policy ? 

The answer is that circumstances have completely changed. It is 
unnecessary to consider now whether the creation of a reformed 
Turkey, mediating between hostile races in the Near East, was a 
scheme which, had the Sultan been sincere and the Powers united, 
could ever have been realized. It certainly can not be realized now. 
The Turkey of "Union and Progress" is at least as barbarous and is 
far more aggressive than the Turkey of Sultan Abdul Hamid. In the 
hands of Germany it has ceased even in appearance to be a bulwark 
of peace, and is openly used as an instrument of conquest. Under 
German officers Turkish soldiers are now fighting in lands from which 
they had long been expelled, and a Turkish Government controlled, 
subsidized, and supported by Germany has been guilty of massacres 
in Armenia and Syria more horrible than any recorded in the history 
even of those unhappy countries. Evidently the interests of peace and 
the claims of nationality alike require that Turkish rule over alien 
races shall, if possible, be brought to an end ; and we may hope that 
the expulsion of Turkey from Europe will contribute as much to the 
cause of peace as the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine to France, of 
Italia Irredenta to Italy, or any of the other territorial changes in- 
dicated in the Allied note. 

Evidently, however, such territorial rearrangements, though they 
may diminish the occasions of war, provide no sufficient security 
against its recurrence. If Germany, or rather, those in Germany who 
mold its opinions and control its destinies, again set out to dominate 
the world, they may find that by the new order of things the adven- 
ture is made more difficult, but hardly that it is made impossible. They 


may still have ready to their hand a political system organized through 
and through on a military basis ; they may still accumulate vast stores 
of military equipment; they may still perfect their methods of at- 
tack, so that their more pacific neighbours will be struck down before 
they can prepare themselves for defence. If so, Europe, when the 
war is over, will be far poorer in men, in money, and in mutual good- 
will than it was when the war began, but it will not be safer; and the 
hopes for the future of the world entertained by the President will be 
as far as ever from fulfilment. 

There are those who think that for this disease international treaties 
and international laws may provide a sufficient cure. But such per- 
sons have ill learned the lessons so clearly taught by recent history. 
While other nations, notably the United States of America and 
Britain, were striving by treaties of arbitration to make sure that 
no chance quarrel should mar the peace they desired to make perpetual, 
Germany stood aloof. Her historians and philosophers preached the 
splendors of war; Power was proclaimed as the true end of the State; 
the General Staff forged with untiring industry the weapons by 
which at the appointed moment Power might be achieved. These 
facts proved clearly enough that treaty arrangements for maintaining 
peace were not likely to find much favour at Berlin ; they did not prove 
that such treaties, once made, would be utterly ineffectual. This 
became evident only when war had broken out; though the 
demonstration, when it came, was overwhelming. So long as Germany 
remains the Germany which, without a shadow of justification, over-ran 
and barbarously ill-treated a country it was pledged to defend, no 
State can regard its rights as secure if they have no better protection 
than a solemn treaty. 

The case is made worse by the reflection that these methods of 
calculated brutality were designed by the Central Powers, not merely 
to crush to the dust those with whom they were at war, but to intimi- 
date those with whom they were still at peace. Belgium was not only 
a victim — it was an example. Neutrals were intended to note the out- 
rages which accompanied its conquest, the reign of terror which fol- 
lowed on its occupation, the deportation of a portion of its population, 
the cruel oppression of the remainder. And, lest the nations happily 
protected, either by British fleets or by their own, from German armies 
should suppose themselves safe from German methods, the submarine 
has (within its limits) assiduously imitated the barbarous practices of 
the sister service. The War Staffs of the Central Powers are well 
content to horrifv the world if at the same time thev can terrorize it. 

64 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

If, then, the Central Powers succeed, it will be to methods like these 
that they will owe their success. How can any reform of international 
relations be based on a peace thus obtained? Such a peace would 
represent the triumph of all the forces which make war certain and 
make it brutal. It would advertise the futility of all the methods on 
which civilization relies to eliminate the occasions of international dis- 
pute and to mitigate their ferocity. 

Germany and Austria made the present war inevitable by attacking 
the rights of one small State, and they gained their initial triumphs 
by violating the treaty-guarded territories of another. Are small 
States going to find in them their protectors or in treaties made 
by them a bulwark against aggression? Terrorism by land and sea 
will have proved itself the instrument of victory. Are the victors 
likely to abandon it on the appeal of neutrals? If existing treaties 
are no more than scraps of paper, can fresh treaties help us? If 
the violations of the most fundamental canons of international law 
be crowned with success, will it not be in vain that the assembled 
nations labour to improve their code? None will profit by their rules 
but the criminals who break them. It is those who keep them that 
will suffer. 

Though, therefore, the people of this country share to the full the 
desire of the President for peace, they do not believe that peace can be 
durable if it be not based on the success of the Allied cause. For a 
durable peace can hardly be expected unless three conditions are ful- 
filled. The first is that the existing causes of international unrest should 
be as far as possible removed or weakened. The second is that the 
aggressive aims and the unscrupulous methods of the Central Powers 
should fall into disrepute among their own peoples. The third is that 
behind international law and behind all treaty arrangements for pre- 
venting or limiting hostilities some form of international sanction 
should be devised which would give pause to the hardiest aggressor. 
These conditions may be difficult of fulfilment. But we believe them 
to be in general harmony with the President's ideals, and we are confi- 
dent that none of them can be satisfied, even imperfectly, unless peace 
be secured on the general lines indicated (so far as Europe is con- 
cerned) in the joint note. Therefore it is that this country has made, 
is making, and is prepared to make sacrifices of blood and treasure 
unparalleled in its history. It bears these heavy burdens, not merely 
that it may thus fulfil its treaty obligations, nor yet that it may secure 
a barren triumph of one group of nations over another. It bears 
them because it firmly believes that on the success of the Allies depend 


the prospects of peaceful civilization and of those international reforms 
which the best thinkers of the New \\'orld. as of the Old, dare to 
hope may follow on the cessation of our present calamities. 

I am, with great truth and respect, Sir, your Excellency's most 
obedient, humble servant, 

Arthur Tames Balfour. 

Kaiser Wilhelm's Proclamation to the German People, January 13, 


Our enemies have dropped the mask. After refusing with scorn 
and hypocritical words of love for peace and humanity our honest 
peace ofifer. they now, in their reply to the United States, have gone 
beyond that and admitted their lust for conquest, the baseness of 
which is further enhanced by their calumnious assertions. Their aim 
is the crushing of Germany, the dismemberment of the Powers allied 
with us, and the enslavement of the freedom of Europe and the seas, 
under the same yoke that Greece, with gnashing of teeth, is now en- 
during. But what they, in thirty months of the bloodiest fighting and 
unscrupulous economic war could not achieve, they will also in all 
the future not accomplish. 

Our glorious victories and our iron strength of will, with which 
our fighting people at the front and at home have borne all hard- 
ships and distress, guarantee that also in the future our beloved 
Fatherland has nothing to fear. Burning indignation and holy wrath 
will redouble the strength of every German man and woman, wheth- 
er it is devoted to fighting, work, or suffering. We are ready for all 
sacrifices. The God who planted His glorious spirit of freedom in 
our brave people's heart will also give us and our loyal Allies, tested 
in battle, full victory over all the enemy lust for power and rage for 


Statement of Francesco Ruffini, Italian Minister of Public Instruc- 
tion, Rome, January 14, 1917' 

In the note of the Allies to President Wilson, they make a point 
which is understandable to neutrals, and particularly to America. Italy, 

^The Times, London, January 15, 1917. 
-The New York Times, January 16, 1917. 

66 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

no less than her allies, awaits with calm confidence the realization of 
the aims set forth in that passage of the note which refers to the re- 
demption of Italians subject to Austria. The German press seeks 
to depict Italy as desirous of conquests, but American public opinion, 
so far-seeing, so well educated to freedom and to a deep spirit of 
national unity, can not confound brutal lust of conquest with a justified 
claim to territories with populations like those of the Trentino, Istria 
and Dalmatia. 

These territories have had only one civilization in their history, that 
of Italy, and only one great humiliation — which must cease — that of 
foreign domination which attempted to destroy the principle of na- 
tionality. America knows well that Italy, notwithstanding these just 
claims, abstained from any provocation before the European conflagra- 
tion, being occupied only with her peaceful development. Austria was 
responsible for the outbreak of the conflict, having willed war with 
Serbia after provoking Italy one hundred times with violent persecu- 
tion of Italians of Trent, Trieste, Fiume and Zara, whom she denied 
even the right to educate themselves in their own language. 

Once the conflagration was ignited, Italy felt that fate called her to 
complete her national unity and resume her just and holy work and her 
wars of independence, which have been studied with such enthusiasm 
by your illustrious American historians. Only those who are ignorant 
of the history of Austria's violent usurpations were surprised by Italy's 
action, initiated by her victorious armies, or considered her just claims 
to be ambition for conquest. Italy faced the terrible sacrifices of blood 
and riches imposed by the war with that same religious spirit which 
animated all the deeds of her national resurrection, of which America's 
attainment of independence was so full. 

Italy counts on the considered and tranquil judgment of American 
public opinion which, while justly desiring the return of peace, can not, 
if it examines the origin of the conflict and the problem raised thereby, 
wish that the European equilibrium, broken by violence in 1914, be 
replaced to-day by a premature and unfruitful peace containing the 
germs of graver conflicts in the future. 

Persian Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, January 15, 1917' 

His Imperial Majesty's Government has instructed me to communi- 
cate to your Excellency that it experienced the utmost pleasure upon 

^The New York Times, January 16, 1917. 


receipt of the President's note of December 18, 1916, regarding peace 
terms transmitted through the United States plenipotentiary at Tehe- 
ran, and to express to you the hope that a step so benevolent and 
humane will meet with the success it deserves. 

I am further instructed to say that, notwithstanding we declared 
ourselves neutral, a large part of our country has been disturbed and 
devastated by the fighting of the belligerents within our boundaries. 
In view of this fact you can not doubt that we heartily welcome and 
indorse the move the President has made. 

Furthermore, inasmuch as His Majesty's Government understands 
from the President's note that he desires the preservation of the in- 
tegrity and freedom of the powers and the weaker nations, and in 
view of the firm friendship which has always existed between our 
two countries, it ardently hopes that the Government of the United 
States will assist our oppressed nation to maintain its integrity and 
rights, not only for the present, but whenever a peace conference 
shall take place. 

Extract from the Reply of the Greek Government to President 
Wilson's Peace Note, January 16, 1917^ 

The Royal Government learns with the most lively interest of the 
steps which the President of the United States of America has just 
undertaken among the belligerents for the cessation of a long and 
cruel war which is ravishing humanity. Very sensitive to the com- 
munication made to it, the Royal Government deeply appreciates the 
generous courage as well as the extremely humanitarian and pro- 
foundly politic spirit which dictated that suggestion. The considera- 
tions given in it to the subject of the sufferings of neutral nations as 
a result of the colossal struggle, as well as guarantees which will 
be equally desired by both belligerent factions for the rights and 
privileges of all States, have particularly found a sympathetic echo 
in the soul of Greece. In fact, there is no country which, like Greece, 
has had to suffer from this war, while at the same time remaining 
a stranger to it. 

Through circumstances exceptionally tragic, she has less than other 
neutral countries been able to escape a direct and pernicious effect 
from the hostilities between the belligerents. Her geographical posi- 

'^The New York Times, January 17, 1917. For the reply of King Constantine, 
see ante, p. 42. 

68 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

tion contributed toward diminishing her power of resistance against 
violations of her neutrahty and sovereignty, which she has been forced 
to submit to in the interest of self-preservation. 

The Royal Government would certainly have made all haste to 
accede to the noble demand of the President of the United States of 
America, to help with all means in its power until success were 
achieved, if it were not entirely out of communication with one of 
the two belligerents, while toward the other it must await the solution 
of difficulties which seriously weigh upon the situation in Greece. But 
the Royal Government is following with all the intensity of its soul 
the precious effort of the President of the United States of America, 
hoping to see it completed at the earliest possible moment. 

President Wilson's Address to the Senate, January 22, 1917^ 

Mr. President and gentlemen of the Senate: On the eighteenth 
of December last I addressed an identic note to the governments of 
the nations now at war requesting them to state, more definitely than 
they had yet been stated by either group of belligerents, the terms 
upon which they would deem it possible to make peace. I spoke on 
behalf of humanity and of the rights of all neutral nations like our 
own, many of whose most vital interests the war puts in constant 
jeopardy. The Central Powers united in a reply which stated merely 
that they were ready to meet their antagonists in conference to discuss 
terms of peace. The Entente Powers have replied much more definitely 
and have stated, in general terms, indeed, but with sufficient definite- 
ness to imply details, the arrangements, guarantees, and acts of repara- 
tion which they deem to be the indispensable conditions of a satisfac- 
tory settlement. We are that much nearer a definite discussion of the 
peace which shall end the present war. We are that much nearer the 
discussion of the international concert which must thereafter hold the 
world at peace. In every discussion of the peace that must end this 
war it is taken for granted that that peace must be followed by some 
definite concert of power which will make it virtually impossible that 
' any such catastrophe should ever overwhelm us again. Every lover of 
mankind, every sane and thoughtful man must take that for granted. 

I have sought this opportunity to address you because I thought 
that I owed it to you, as the council associated with me in the final 
determination of our international obligations, to disclose to you with- 
out reserve the thought and purpose that have been taking form in 

^Congressional Record, January 22, 1917, p. 1947. 


my mind in regard to the duty of our Government in the days to come 
when it will be necessary to lay afresh and upon a new plan the founda- 
tions of peace among the nations. 

It is inconceivable that the people of the United States should play 
no part in that great enterprise. To take part in such a service will 
be the opportunity for which they have sought to prepare themselves 
by the very principles and purposes of their polity and the approved 
practices of their Government ever since the days when they set up a 
new nation in the high and honorable hope that it might in all that it 
was and did show mankind the way to liberty. They can not in honor 
withhold the service to which they are now about to be challenged. 
1 hey do not wish to withhold it. But they owe it to themselves and 
to the other nations of the world to state the conditions under which 
they will feel free to render it. 

That service is nothing less than this, to add their authority and 
their power to the authority and force of other nations to guarantee 
peace and justice throughout the world. Such a settlement can not now 
be long postponed. It is right that before it comes this Government 
should frankly formulate the conditions upon which it would feel 
justified in asking our people to approve its formal and solemn adhe- 
rence to a League for Peace. I am here to attempt to state those 

The present war must first be ended ; but we ow^e it to candor and 
to a just regard for the opinion of mankind to say that, so far as our 
participation in guarantees of future peace is concerned, it makes a 
great deal of difference in what way and upon what terms it is ended. 
The treaties and agreements which bring it to an end must embody 
terms which will create a peace that is worth guaranteeing and pre- 
serving, a peace that will win the approval of mankind, not merely a 
peace that will serve the several interests and immediate aims of the 
nations engaged. We shall have no voice in determining what those 
terms shall be. but we shall, I feel sure, have a voice in determining 
whether they shall be. made lasting or not by the guarantees of a uni- 
versal covenant ; and our judgment upon what is fundamental and 
essential as a condition precedent to permanency should be spoken 
now, not afterwards when it may be too late. 

No covenant of cooperative peace that doe? not include the peoples 
of the New World can suffice to keep the future safe against war; 
and yet there is only one sort of peace that the peoples of America 
could join in guaranteeing. The elements of that peace must be ele- 
ments that engage the confidence and satisfy the principles of the 

70 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

American governments, elements consistent with their political faith 
and the practical convictions which the peoples of America have once 
for all embraced and midertaken to defend. 

I do not mean to say that any American government would throw 
any obstacle in the way of any terms of peace the governments now 
at war might agree upon, or seek to upset them when made, whatever 
they might be. I only take it for granted that mere terms of peace 
between the belligerents will not satisfy even the belligerents them- 
selves. Mere agreements may not make peace secure. It will be 
absolutely necessary that a force be created as a guarantor of the per- 
manency of the settlement so much greater than the force of any nation 
now engaged or any alliance hitherto formed or projected that no 
nation, no probable combination of nations could face or withstand it. 
If the peace presently to be made is to endure, it must be a peace made 
secure by the organized major force of mankind. 

The terms of the immediate peace agreed upon will determine 
whether it is a peace for which such a guarantee can be secured. 
The question upon which the whole future peace and policy of the 
world depends is this : Is the present war a struggle for a just and 
secure peace, or only for a new balance of power? If it be only a 
struggle for a new balance of power, who will guarantee, who can 
guarantee, the stable equilibrium of the new arrangement? Only a 
tranquil Europe can be a stable Europe. There must be, not a balance 
of power, but a community of power; not organized rivalries, but an 
organized common peace. 

Fortunately we have received very explicit assurances on this point. 
The statesmen of both of the groups of nations now arrayed against 
one another have said, in terms that could not be misinterpreted, that 
it was no part of the purpose they had in mind to crush their antago- 
nists. But the implications of these assurances may not be equally 
clear to all, — may not be the same on both sides of the water. I think 
it will be serviceable if I attempt to set forth what we understand 
them to be. 

They imply, first of all, that it must be a peace without victory. 
It is not pleasant to say this. I beg that I may be permitted to put 
my own interpretation upon it and that it may be understood that no 
other interpretation was in my thought. I am seeking only to face 
realities and to face them without soft concealments. Victory would 
mean peace forced upon the loser, a victor's terms imposed upon the 
vanquished. It would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at an 
intolerable sacrifice, and would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter 


memory upon which terms of peace would rest, not permanently, but 
only as upon quicksand. Only a peace between equals can last. Only 
a peace the very principle of which is equality and a common partici- 
pation in a common benefit. I'he right state of mind, the right feeling 
between nations, is as necessary for a lasting peace as is the just settle- 
ment of vexed questions of territory or of racial and national allegiance. 

The equality of nations upon which peace must be founded if it is 
to last must be an equality of rights ; the guarantees exchanged must 
neither recognize nor imply a difference between big nations and small, 
between those tha:t are powerful and those that are weak. Right must 
be based upon the common strength, not upon the individual strength, 
of the nations upon whose concert peace will depend. Equality of ter- 
ritory or of resources there of course can not be; nor any other sort 
of equality not gained in the ordinary peaceful and legitimate develop- 
ment of the peoples themselves. But no one asks or expects anything 
more than an equality of rights. Mankind is looking now for freedom 
of life, not for equipoises of power. 

And there is a deeper thing involved than even equality of right 
among organized nations. No peace can last, or ought to last, which 
does not recognize and accept the principle that governments derive 
all their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that no 
right anywhere exists to hand peoples about from sovereignty to 
sovereignty as if they were property. I take it for granted, for in- 
stance, if I may venture upon a single example, that statesmen every- 
where are agreed that there should be a united, independent, and 
autonomous Poland, and that henceforth inviolable security of life, of 
worship, and of industrial and social development should be guaran- 
teed to all peoples who have lived hitherto under the power of govern- 
ments devoted to a faith and purpose hostile to their own. 

I speak of this, not because of any desire to exalt an abstract political 
principle which has always been held very dear by those who have 
sought to build up liberty in America, but for the same reason that I 
have spoken of the other conditions of peace which seem to me clearly 
indispensable, — because I wish frankly to uncover realities. Any peace 
which does not recognize and accept this principle will inevitably be 
upset. It will not rest upon the affections or the convictions of man- 
kind. The ferment of spirit of whole populations will fight subtly 
and constantly against it, and all the world will sympathize. The 
world can be at peace only if its life is stable, and there can be no 
stability where the will is in rebellion, where there is not tranquillity 
of spirit and a sense of justice, of freedom, and of right. 

72 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

So far as practicable, moreover, every great people now struggling 
towards a full development of its resources and of its powers should 
be assured a direct outlet to the great highways of the sea. Where this 
can not be done by the cession of territory, it can no doubt be done by 
the neutralization of direct rights of way under the general guarantee 
which will assure the peace itself. With a right comity of arrange- 
ment no nation need be shut away from free access to the open paths 
of the world's commerce. 

And the paths of the sea must alike in law and in fact be free. The 
freedom of the seas is the sine qua non of peace, equality, and coopera- 
tion. No doubt a somewhat radical reconsideration of many of the 
rules of international practice hitherto thought to be established may 
be necessary in order to make the seas indeed free and common in 
practically all circumstances for the use of mankind, but the motive for 
such changes is convincing and compelling. There can be no trust or 
intimacy between the peoples of the world without them. The free, 
constant, unthreatened intercourse of nations is an essential part of 
the process of peace and of development. It need not be difficult either 
to define or to secure the freedom of the seas if the governments of 
the world sincerely desire to come to an agreement concerning it. 

It is a problem closely connected with the limitation of naval arma- 
ments opens the wider and jerhaps more difficult question of the 
seas at once free and safe. And the question of limiting naval arma- 
ments opens the wider and perhaps more difficult question of the 
limitation of armies and of all programs of military preparation. 
Difficult and delicate as these questions are, they must be faced with 
the utmost candor and decided in a spirit of real accommodation if 
peace is to come with healing in its wings, and come to stay. Peace 
can not be had without concession and sacrifice. There can be no 
sense of safety and equality among the nations if great preponderating 
armaments are henceforth to continue here and there to be built up 
and maintained. The statesmen of the world must plan for peace and 
nations must adjust and accommodate their policy to it as they have 
planned for war and made ready for pitiless contest and rivalry. The 
question of armaments, whether on land or sea, is the most immedi- 
ately and intensely practical question connected with the future for- 
tunes of nations and of mankind. 

I have spoken upon these great matters without reserve and with 
the utmost explicitness because it has seemed to me to be necessary 
if the world's yearning desire for peace was anywhere to find free 


voice and utterance. Perhaps I am the only person in high authority 
amongst all the peoples of the world who is at liberty to speak and 
hold nothing back. I am speaking as an individual, and yet I am 
speaking also, of course, as the responsible head of a great government, 
and I feel confident that I have said what the people of the United 
States would wish me to say. May I not add that I hope and believe 
that I am in effect speaking for liberals and friends of humanity in 
every nation and of every program of liberty? I would fain believe 
that I am speaking for the silent mass of mankind everywhere who 
have as yet had no place or opportunity to speak their real hearts out 
concerning the death and ruin they see to have come already upon the 
persons and the homes they hold most dear. 

And in holding out the expectation that the people and Government 
of the United States will join the other civilized nations of the world 
in guaranteeing the permanence of peace upon such terms as I have 
named, I speak with the greater boldness and confidence because it 
is clear to every man who can think that there is in this promise no 
breach in either our traditions or our policy as a nation, but a fulfil- 
ment, rather, of all that we have professed or striven for. 

I am proposing, as it were, that the nations should with one accord 
adopt the doctrine of President Monroe as the doctrine of the world: 
that no nation should seek to extend its polity over any other nation 
or people, but that every people should be left free to determine its 
own polity, its own way of development, unhindered, unthreatened, 
unafraid, the little along with the great and powerful. 

I am proposing that all nations henceforth avoid entangling alliances 
which would draw them into competitions of power, catch them in a 
net of intrigue and selfish rivalry, and disturb their own affairs with 
influences intruded from without. There is no entangling alliance in 
a concert of power. When all unite to act in the same sense and with 
the same purpose all act in the common interest and are free to live 
their own lives under a common protection. 

I am proposing government by the consent of the governed ; that 
freedom of the seas which in international conference after con- 
ference representatives of the United States have urged with the elo- 
quence of those who are the convinced disciples of liberty; and that 
moderation of armaments which makes of armies and navies a power 
for order merely, not an instrument of aggression or of selfish violence. 

These are American principles, American policies. We could stand 
for no others. And they are also the principles and policies of forward 

74 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

looking men and women everywhere, of every modern nation, of every 
enlightened community. They are the principles of mankind and must 

Speech of Viscount Mctono, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, 
in the Diet, January 23, 1917' 

The great war which has been ravaging Europe for two years and a 
half is an event without precedent in the history of humanity. With- 
out doubt it will have incalculable effect upon the destiny of nations 
in the future; on the issue of this war will hang the liberty of na- 
tions. The question is whether the small and the great nations oi 
Europe will be subjugated by Germany or not. 

You all know the origin of the present war. The impossible de- 
mands of Austria-Hungary upon Serbia were apparently the cause 
of the taking up of arms by European nations, but the real cause was 
Germany's ambition for world domination for which preparations 
were being made for many years past. Germany cherishing great 
ambitions for the distant future, had seized upon Tsingtau in 1898 
with the view of gobbling up the whole of China in time. That 
this has bpen so nobody will contend to-day. The great pan-Germanist 
propaganda, the elaborate and marvelous military preparations, these 
are no longer a secret. 

In the summer of 1914 Germany thought that the time had come 
for imposing upon the world a powerful German domination ; she 
thought that in a couple of months there would be an end of her 
enemies' resistance. All calculations were baffled and now at the end 
of two years and a half she finds herself forced to pursue the strug- 
gle anew. 

Japan, at the first appeal from Great Britain, did not hesitate for 
a moment in coming to her aid; she has loyally accomplished her 
duty by her ally, our army and navy succeeded in a few months in 
bringing to naught the German resistance in our part of the world. 
In destroying the bases of German activity in China, Japan has se- 
cured the order and tranquillity of the extreme East. In cooperating 
with Great Britain in the destroying of the German fleet in the Pacific 
and the Indian Oceans Japan has greatly contributed to the assuring 
of the safety of mercantile trade in these seas not only for Japan and 
Great Britain but for all nations, allied and neutral. At a time when 
our enemies do not recoil from the most horrible means of destroy- 

^Furnished by the Imperial Japanese Embassy at Washington. 


ing the trade by sea of the nations, the Pacific and the Indian oceans 
are free from German brigandage. I am persuaded that the civilized 
world will do us justice for the services rendered by Japan to the 
cause of humanity at large. 

In declaring war on Germany and in acceding to the Declaration 
of London of the 5th of September, 1914, Japan has made her posi- 
tion clear in the formidable struggle. We have taken part in this war 
not merely for the defence of our particular interests but also for the 
defence of those of our allies, as well as the interests of humanity in 

It is necessary that righteousness and justice should emerge vic- 
torious out of this merciless struggle ; it is necessary that the world 
should be given to live in all tranquillity after this cataclysm. In 
order to attain this noble end there must be before everything a 
victory complete and definitive for our allied powers. Without a com- 
plete victory it need scarcely be remarked that the peace of the Far 
East for which we have made all manner of sacrifices will remain in 
real danger. And for obtaining this victory a sacred union not only 
of all the governments but also of the peoples ranged on our side in 
defence of the inseparable rights of humanity, is an essential condi- 

In consenting to take part in this war, Japan was under the obliga- 
tion, in view of her particular position in Asia, of limiting from the 
beginning her sphere of military action; but after having faithfully 
accomplished the task incumbent upon her she has made and will ever 
make every efifort toward the attainment of the final victory by her 
, allies. The struggle between the allies and the common enemies is 
not one simply of military and naval forces, but it is a struggle ex- 
tending over all spheres of human activities. It is the reason why 
we should march forward in every direction in an accord as com- 
plete as possible. Hence it is that we have adhered to the resolutions 
of the Economic Conference of Paris. It is for that reason again 
that the Imperial Government have taken some administrative meas- 
ures with a view to safeguarding our common interests in the mat- 
ter of postal and telegraphic communications. It is also with that 
end in view that the (Tovernment are contemplating to take other and 
different measures in consequence of the Economic Conference. It 
was further for the purpose of keeping in more complete accord 
with our allies that tlie Imperial Government gave a prompt assent 
to the project of the response, proposed by the French Government 
in the name of the allies, to the German and American notes. The rea- 

y(i PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

sons that caused our refusal toward the German proposal have been 
clearly stated in the identic note. The Imperial Government con- 
sider with the allied governments that the pretensions of the hostile 
governments are inadmissible and that the time has not yet come for 
entering upon peace negotiations. With your permission I will next 
say a few words in regard to our reply to the American note. While 
highly approving the elevated sentiments which inspired this de- 
marche of the American Government, the allied governments did not 
feel bound to accede to the desire of peace expressed by that govern- 
ment. The reasons for this decision on their part were set forth in 
the note forwarded in Paris to the American Ambassador by the 
French Government in the name of the allied powers. In the reply 
to the American Government, the allied powers state a certain num- 
ber of conditions which they consider it indispensable to impose on 
the hostile governments on the occasion of the conclusion of peace. 
The absence of all reference to the future disposition of the German 
colonies has justly attracted the attention of the Japanese public, 
neither has it escaped the notice of the Imperial Government. The 
reply to the American note by no means contains all the conditions 
of peace. The allied powers have reserved the right to present the 
conditions in detail at the time of the peace negotiations. This last 
point is indicated in the note to America. The Imperial Government, 
when they adhered to the project of the response to the American 
note, knew that the allied powers had not neglected to take into 
proper consideration the just claims which Japan would present at 
the peace negotiations. Nevertheless to clear away all misunder- 
standing on this point, we took the necessary measures, in sending . 
our reply of adhesion to the French Government, for safeguarding 
our rights, and I am happy to be able to assure you that a most 
satisfactory understanding exists on this subject among all the allies 
at a moment when the allied powers have taken the decision of con- 
tinuing the war until the victor}^ of justice and righteousness as' well 
as true peace of the world has been realized. I would most eagerly 
express our sentiments of the most sincere appreciation for the ef- 
forts displayed by Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Belgium, Ser- 
bia, Montenegro and Roumania. At the same time I would express 
our most profound admiration for their brave armies and navies. I 
also wish to testify to our hearty sympathy for the inhabitants of the 
regions fouled by the foot of the cruel and barbarous invaders and 
I am firmly persuaded that a future more glorious is in store for these 
unfortunate peoples. 


It is needless for me to state that our alliance with Great Britain 
is the basis of our foreign policy. The present war has demonstrated 
the solidity as well as the benefits of this alliance. The Japanese and 
the British people have realized in the most evident manner the neces- 
sity of this alliance for the protection of the rights and interests of the 
two empires. It is at the same time an essential guaranty for the 
maintenance of the order and peace of the extreme Orient. 

We must also felicitate ourselves upon the understanding signed 
between Japan and Russia in July, 1916. All the succeeding cabinets 
of Japan since the end of the Russian war have pursued the policy of 
rapprochement with that nation. The two governments of Japan and 
Russia saw the necessity of this policy immediately after the conclu- 
sion of peace. Inaugurated by our first entente in 1907, this policy 
has been uniformly pursued and enhanced by the successive ententes 
which finally led to the Convention of 1916, concluded amidst events 
destined to produce incalculable consequences upon Russia. This 
convention has had the efifect of enlightening the public opinion of 
Russia to the perception of the sincerity of the Japanese sentiments. 
I do not hesitate to state to you that the government and people of 
Russia testify a profound sense of gratitude to Japan for the great 
services rendered to Russia in our furnishing her with ammunitions 
which facilitated her military operations. Having been a personal 
observer for more than two years of the evolution of the Russian 
mentality, I believe I am able to afifirm to you that the Russian nation 
entertain the most sincere and frank amity toward Japan. Japan and 
Russia have great interests in common to be safeguarded in the Far 
East. This intimate accord between the two nations, no less than 
the Anglo- Japanese alliance, constitutes an indispensable guaranty for 
peace in our part of the world in spite of the troubled times amidst 
which we find ourselves. 

I am happy to be able to state to you that our relations with the 
neutral powers are more than ever cordial. I am persuaded that all 
the neutral nations will do us full justice for the immense service 
done by our navy for their foreign commerce. If we had not, in 
concert with the British navy, destroyed the German fleet in the 
Pacific, where would the maritime commerce of the neutral countries 
be. especially of countries such as America, Australia and China, 
which border upon the Pacific? I am firmly convinced that all the 
neutral powers that have profited by the security of the seas assured 
by the two navies, will recognize the justice of what I have just stated 
to vou. 

78 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

You are aware that Japan has always preserved the most sincerely 
amicable relations with the government and the people of America, 
though from time to tirne there have been light clouds which have 
cast a shadow upon our relations though ever so little. These clouds 
have generally been dissipated by the common good-will of the two 
governments. There certainly have been questions about which the 
two governments could not come to a complete accord, but that will 
be the case between even the best of allies. However, when one faces 
the most thorny questions in a friendly and frank spirit, with the will of 
solving them in an amicable and conciliatory manner, there will surely 
be found a way to an understanding. It is this end that the two gov- 
ernments have always pursued to the great satisfaction of our two 
countries. It affords me great pleasure to state that there have been 
symptoms of more real sympathy manifested of late between the 
countries. As one instance we have been approached by the Ameri- 
can capitalists for cooperation in financial affairs in China. The Im- 
perial Government are watching with lively interest the further devel- 
opment of the economic rapprochement between the two countries. 

I would not speak of all the events that have come to pass in China 
in recent years, which must be still fresh in your memory. We must 
recognize that as the result of these events there has been created a 
certain atmosphere which is not altogether desirable. It is for the 
good of our two countries that this state of things should absolutely 
disappear. In view of the great political and economic interests which 
Japan possesses in China, it has always been the sincere desire of this 
country to see her neighbor developed along the paths of modern 
civilization and we have spared no efforts for that purpose. It was 
for that purpose also that we sent to China a number of civil and 
military advisors, and that we concurred with other countries in fur- 
nishing China with the financial means of accomplishing reforms of 
every kind and also that we undertook the education and instruction 
of the young Chinese students who are coming to Japan by thousands. 
Nobody would contradict me when I say that China certainly is in- 
debted much to Japan in her work of reorganization pursued for 
several years. Why is it that in spite of all our well-meant efforts, 
China seems often to regard us with mistrust and even animosity? 
There may be many causes for that, but the chief reason, to my mind, is 
the tendency on the part of* the Japanese towards interference in 
China's internal quarrels since the overthrow of the Manchu Dynasty 
and the establishment of the republican regime. There have since 
been formed in China a number of political parties, for one or another 


of which parties there have been some Japanese who have expressed 
sympathy. These persons have developed marked tendency towards 
a desire to help these political parties to obtain power according as 
their own political opinions or personal sympathy dictate. I am per- 
suaded that all these persons are perfectly sincere in their desire of 
helping our neighboring friends, but the results were deplorable. 
To what did our attitude at the moment of the formation of the 
Republic lead, and to what did all the movements inimical to the 
President lead? You are aware of it so well that I need not dwell 
upon it. But what I have to state is that in the wake of all these 
facts we have had no other results than to invite, on the one hand, the 
animosity of our neighbors and, on the other, to cause other nations' 
misunderstanding of the real intentions of Japan. I do not hesitate 
to state that the present Cabinet absolutely repudiate this mode of 
action. We desire to maintain the most cordial relations with China. 
We desire nothing more than the gradual accompHshment by China 
of all her schemes of reform, and we shall leave nothing undone in 
order to help her in the task, if she so desires. Endeavors shall not 
be wanting on our part to make China comprehend the sincerity of 
our sentiments toward her, though it must always remain with China 
whether she should have faith in us or not. We have not the least 
intention, I formally declare hereby, of favoring this or that political 
party in China; all we desire is the maintenance of cordial relations 
of amity with China herself and not with any political party. It is 
essential that China should develop herself smoothly along the path 
of progress and we dread nothing more than the possible disintegra- 
tion of China through her continued troubles. We must put forth 
every efifort to prevent that sad possibility, for nothing is more indis- 
pensable than that China should maintain her independence and ter- 
ritorial integrity. The other point to which the government must 
call your attention is the special position occupied by Japan in certain 
portions of China. I am speaking especially of South Manchuria and 
East Inner Mongolia. Our special situation in these parts has been 
acquired at the cost of immense sacrifice and immeasurable efforts 
on our part and on the strength of this circumstance our rights and 
interests in these parts have been consecrated by treaties and arrange- 
ments. It is therefore the most elementary duty of the Imperial Gov- 
ernment toward the nation to safeguard these rights and interests. 
In the same way it is necessary that China should comprehend that it 
is not only a matter of compliance with international duty that China 
should respect these rights and interests of Japan, but it would be 

80 PEACE PROPOSALS, 191^1917 

nothing more than the reahzation of the good understanding between 
our two countries. 

If China would continue, as we sincerely desire she would, rela- 
tions of the greatest confidence and amity with Japan, it is necessary 
that she should follow the same lines of conduct as those we intend 
to follow with her. It is on this condition alone that anything like a 
firm understanding can exist between us. The Imperial Government 
have the strongest conviction that if the Chinese Government under- 
stood the pure and clear intentions of Japan, China would not have 
any objection to Japan's sincere policy of good understanding in the 
relations between Japan and China. Nobody certainly would dispute 
the fact that Japan occupies a peculiar position in China as well on 
account of her geographic position as her political and economic in- 
terests ; but we must not any more ignore the fact that other powers 
have likewise immense interests in China. We must, therefore, while 
safeguarding our own interests there, take care to respect those of 
other nations. We must before everything try to move in accord 
with powers with which we are under the pledge of special arrange- 
ments and in a general way endeavor to reconcile our interests with 
those of others. We are firmly convinced that such is the line of 
conduct best suited to the common interests of all powers concerned. 
Japan has not any intention to follow an egoistic policy in China. It 
is her sincere desire to keep in complete accord with the countries 
concerned, and the Imperial Government firmly believe that with 
good-will on both sides we shall be able to arrive at a complete under- 
standing which will be for the best interests both of China and all 
other countries. 

Extract from the Speech of Bonar Law, Chancellor of the Ex-, 
chequer, Bristol, England, January 24, 1917^ 

We are working for, looking forward to peace. The Germans the 
other day made us what they call an offer of peace. It received from 
the Allied Governments the only reply which was possible. You have 
read the speech made by President Wilson. It was a frank speech, 
and it is right that any member of an Allied Government who refers 
to it should speak frankly too. It is impossible that he and we can 
look on this question from the same point of view. Whatever his 
private feeling may be, the head of a great neutral State must take 
a neutral attitude. America is very far removed from the horrors of 

'^The Times, London, January 25, 1917. 


this war; we are in the midst of it. America is neutral; we are not 
neutral. We believe that the essence. of this conflict is the question, 
which is as old as time, of the difiference between right and wrong. 
We know that this is a war of naked aggression. We know that 
the crimes which have accompanied the conduct of the war — crimes 
almost incredible after 2,000 years of Christianity — are small in com- 
parison with the initial crime by which the men responsible for the 
policy of Germany with cold-blooded calculation, because they thought 
it would pay, plunged the world into the horrors we are enduring. 

President Wilson's aim is to have peace now and security for peace 
in the future. That is our aim also, and it is our only aim. He hopes 
to secure it by means of a league of peace among the nations, and he 
is trying to get the American Senate to do something to make this 
possible. It would not be right, in my opinion, for us to look upon that 
suggestion as altogether Utopian. You know that until quite recently 
duelling was common. Now the idea that private quarrels should be 
settled by the sword is unthinkable. But, after all, it is for us not an 
abstract question for the future. It is a question of life or death now ; 
and whether we consider that the aim which he and we have in com- 
mon can be secured by his methods, we can not forget the pasl. For 
generations humane men, men of good-will among all nations have 
striven, by Hague Conventions, by peace conferences, by every means, 
to make war impossible. I said humane men. They have striven, if not 
to make it impossible, to mitigate its horrors and to see how the bar- 
riers against barbarism could be maintained. 

At the outbreak of war Germany swept aside every one of those 
barriers and tore up the scraps of paper which she had solemnly signed. 
She spread mines in the open sea ; on sea and land she committed 
atrocities, incredible atrocities, contrary to conventions which she had 
herself signed. At this moment she is driving the populations of 
enemy territory into slavery, and, worse than that, in some cases she 
is making the subjects of the Allies take up arms against their own 
country. All that has happened and no neutral country has been able 
to stop it, and, more than that, no neutral country has made any pro- 
test, at least no effective protest. It is for us a question of life or 
death. We must have stronger guarantees for the future peace of the 

We have rejected the proposal to enter into peace negotiations not 
from any lust of conquest, not from any longing for shining victories ; 
we have rejected it not from any feeling of vindictiveness or even a de- 
sire for revenge ; we have rejected it because peace now would mean 

82 PEACE PROPOSALS, 191^1917 

peace based upon a German victory. It would mean a military ma- 
chine which is still unbroken, it would mean also that that machine 
would be in the hands of a nation prepared for war, who would set 
about preparing for it again, and, at their own time, plunge us again 
into the miseries which we are enduring to-day. What President 
Wilson is longing for we are fighting for. . . . 

Our sons and brothers are dying for it, and we mean to secure it. 
The heart of the people of our country is longing for peace. We are 
praying for peace, a peace that will bring back in safety those who are 
dear to us, but a peace which will mean this — that those who will 
never come back shall not have laid down their lives in vain. 

Speech of Premier Tisza in the Hungarian Parliament, 
January 25, 1917^ 

Pursuant to our peaceful policy before the war and our attitude 
during the war, as well as our recent peace action, we can only greet 
with sympathy every effort aiming at the restoration of peace. We 
are, therefore, incHned to continue a further exchange of views re- 
garding peace with the United States Government. This exchange 
must naturally occur in agreement with our allies. 

In view of the fact that President Wilson in his address makes cer- 
tain distinctions between our reply and our enemies' reply, I must 
especially state that the quadruple alliance declares that it is inclined 
to enter into peace negotiations, but that at the same time it will pro- 
pose terms which, in its opinion, are acceptable for the enemy and cal- 
culated to serve as a basis for a lasting peace. 

On the other hand, the conditions of peace contained in our enemies' 
reply to the United States are equivalent at least to the disintegration 
of our monarchy and of the Ottoman Empire. This amounts to an 
official announcement that the war aims at our destruction, and we are, 
therefore, forced to resist with our utmost strength as long as this is the 
war aim of our enemies. 

In such circumstances it can not be doubted which group of powers 
by its attitude is the obstacle to peace, and this group approximates to 
President Wilson's conception. The President opposes a peace im- 
posed by a conqueror, which one party would regard as a humiliation 
and an intolerable sacrifice. From this it follows clearly that so long 
as the powers opposed to us do not substantially change their war 

^The New York Times, January 26, 1917. 


aims an antagonism that can not be bridged stands between their view- 
point and the President's peace aims. 

My second observation has to do with the principle of nationalties. 
I desire to be brief ; therefore, I will not dilate on the question of 
what moral justification England and Russia have to lay stress on the 
principle of nationalities in a peace program which would destroy the 
Hungarian nation and deliver the Mohammedan population of the 
Bosphorus region into Russian domination. But I say that the whole 
pubHc opinion in Hungary holds to the principle of nationalities in 

The principle of nationalities in the formation of national States, 
however, can only prevail unrestrictedly where single nations live within 
sharply marked ethnographical boundaries in compact masses and in 
regions suited to the organization of a State. In territories where 
various races live intermingled it is impossible that every single race 
can form a national State. In such territories it would only be possible 
to create a State without national character, or one in which a race 
by its numbers and importance predominates, thus imprinting its 
national character. 

In such circumstances, therefore, only that limited realization of the 
principle of nationalities is possible which the President of the United 
States rightfully expresses in demanding that security of life and re- 
ligion and individual and social development should be guaranteed to 
all peoples. I believe that nowhere is this demand realized to such a 
degree as in both States of the monarchy. I believe that in the regions 
of Southeastern Europe, which are inhabited by a varied mixture of 
peoples and nations, the demand for free development of nations can 
not be more completely realized than it is by the existence and domina- 
tion of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. 

We feel ourselves, therefore, completely in agreement with the 
President's demands. We shall strive for the realization as far as 
possible of this principle in the regions lying in our immediate neigh- 
borhood. I can only repeat that, true to our traditional foreign policy 
and true to the standpoint we took in our peace action in conjunction 
with our allies, we are ready to do everything that will guarantee to the 
peoples of Europe the blessings of a lasting peace. 

I beg you to take cognizance of my reply. 

84 PEACE PROPOSALS, 191^1917 

German Note to the United States regarding the Submarine 
Blockade, January 31, 1917' 


German Embassy, 
Washington, January ji, ipiy. 
Mr. Secretary of State : Your Excellency was good enough to 
transmit to the Imperial Government a copy of the message which 
the President of the United States of America addressed to the Sen- 
ate on the 22, inst. The Imperial Government has given it the earnest 
consideration which the President's statements deserve, inspired as 
they are, by a deep sentiment of responsibility. It is highly gratifying 
to the Imperial Government to ascertain that the main tendencies of 
this important statement correspond largely to the desires and prin- 
ciples professed by Germany. These principles especially include 
self-government and equality of rights for all nations. Germany 
would be sincerely glad if in recognition of this principle countries 
like Ireland and India, which, do not enjoy the benefits of political in- 
dependence, should now obtain their freedom. The German people 
also repudiate all alliances which serve to force the countries into a 
competition for might and to involve them in a net of selfish intrigues. 
On the other hand Germany will gladly cooperate in all efforts to 
prevent future wars. The freedom of the seas, being a preliminary 
condition of the free existence of nations and the peaceful intercourse 
between them, as well as the open door for the commerce of all 
nations, has always formed part of the leading principles of Ger- 
many's political program. All the more the Imperial Government 
regrets that the attitude of her enemies who are so entirely opposed 
to peace makes it impossible for the world at present to bring about 
the realization of these lofty ideals. Germany and her allies were 
ready to enter now into a discussion of peace and had set down as 
basis the guaranty of existence, honor and free development of their 
peoples. Their aims, as has been expressly stated in the note of 
December 12, 1916, were not directed towards the destruction or 
annihilation of their enemies and were according to their conviction 
perfectly compatible with the rights of the other nations. As to Bel- 
gium for which such warm and cordial sympathy is felt in the United 
States, the Chancellor had declared only a few weeks previously that 
its annexation had never formed part of Germany's intentions. The 
peace to be signed with Belgium was to provide for such conditions 

^Official print of the Department of State. 


in that country, with which Germany desires to maintain friendly 
neighborly relations, that Belgium should not be used again by Ger- 
many's enemies for the purpose of instigating continuous hostile 
intrigues. Such precautionary measures are all the more necessar\-, 
as Germany's enemies have repeatedly stated not only in speeches 
delivered by their leading men, but also in the statutes of the economi- 
cal conference in Paris, that it is their intention not to treat Germany 
as an equal, even after peace has been restored but to continue their 
hostile attitude and especially to wage a systematical economical war 
against her. 

The attempt of the four allied powers to bring about peace has failed 
owing to the lust of conquest of their enemies, who desired to dictate the 
conditions of peace. Under the pretense of following the principle 
of nationality our enemies have disclosed their real aims in this war, 
viz., to dismember and dishonor Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey 
and Bulgaria. To the wish of reconciliation they oppose the will of 
destruction. They desire a fight to the bitter end. 

A new situation has thus been created which forces Germany to 
new decisions. Since two years and a half England is using her 
naval power for a criminal attempt to force Germany into submission 
by starvation. In brutal contempt of international law the group 
of Powers led by England does not only curtail the legitimate trade 
of their opponents but they also by ruthless pressure compel neutral 
countries either to altogether forego every trade not agreeable to the 
Entente Powers or to limit it according to their arbitrar)-- decrees. 
The American Government knows the steps which have been taken 
to cause England and her allies to return to the rules of international 
law and to respect the freedom of the seas. The English Govern- 
ment, however, insists upon continuing its war of starvation, which 
does not at all afifect the military power of its opponents, but compels 
women and children, the sick and the aged to suflfer, for their country, 
pains and privations which endanger the vitality of the nation. Thus 
British tyranny mercilessly increases the sufferings of the world in- 
different to the laws of humanity, indifferent to the protests of the 
neutrals whom they severely harm, indifferent even to the silent long- 
ing for peace among England's own allies. Each day of the terrible 
struggle causes new destruction, new sufferings. Each day shorten- 
ing the war will, on both sides, preserve the life of thousands of brave 
soldiers and be a benefit to mankind. 

The Imperial Government could not justify before its own con- 
science, before the German people and before history the neglect of 

86 PEACE PROPOSALS, 191^1917 

any means destined to bring about the end of the war. Like the 
President of the United States, the Imperial Government had hoped 
to reach this goal by negotiations. After the attempts to come to an 
understanding with the Entente Powers have been answered by the 
latter with the announcement of an intensified continuation of the war, 
the Imperial Government — in order to serve the welfare of mankind 
in a higher sense and not to wrong its own people — is now compelled- 
to continue the fight for existence, again forced upon it, with the full 
employment of all the weapons which are at its disposal. 

Sincerely trusting that the people and Government of the United 
States will understand the motives for this decision and its necessity, 
the Imperial Government hopes that the United States may view the 
new situation from the lofty heights of impartiality and assist, on their 
part, to prevent further misery and avoidable sacrifice of human life. 

Enclosing two memoranda regarding the details o^ the contemplated 
military measures at sea, I remain, etc., 

(Signed) J. Bernstorff. 

[Inclosure 1] 


After bluntly refusing Germany's peace offer the Entente Powers, 
stated in their note addressed to the American Government, that they 
are determined to continue the war in order to deprive Germany of 
German provinces in the West and the East, to destroy Austria-Hun- 
gary and to annihilate Turkey. In waging war with such aims, the 
Entente Allies are violating all rules of international law, as they 
prevent the legitimate trade of neutrals with the Central Powers, and 
of the neutrals among themselves. Germany has, so far, not made 
unrestricted use of the weapon which she possesses in her submarines. 
Since the Entente Powers, however, have made it impossible to come 
to an understanding based upon equality of rights of all nations, as 
proposed by the, Central Powers and have instead declared only such 
a peace to be possible, which shall be dictated by the Entente Allies 
and shall result in the destruction and humiliation of the Central 
Powers, Germany is unable further to forego the full use of her sub- 
marines. The Imperial Government, therefore, does not doubt that 
the Government of the United States will understand the situation thus 
forced upon Germany bv the Entente Allies' brutal methods of war 
and by their determination to destroy the Central Powers, and that 
the Government of the United States will further realize that the 


now openly disclosed intentions of the Entente Allies give back to 
Germany the freedom of the action which she reserved in her note 
addressed to the Government of the United States on May 4, 1916. 

Under these circumstances Germany will meet the illegal measures 
of her enemies by forcibly preventing after February 1, 1917, in a 
zone around Great Britain, France, Italy and in the Eastern Mediter- 
ranean all navigation, that of neutrals included, from and to England 
and from and to France, etc., etc. All ships met within that zone 
will be sunk. 

The Imperial Government is confident that this measure will result 
in a speedy termination of the war and in the restoration of peace which 
the Government of the United States has so much at heart. Like the 
Government of the United States. Germany and her allies had hoped 
to reach this goal by negotiations. Now that the war, through the 
fault of Germany's enemies, has to be continued, the Imperial Gov- 
ernment feels sure that the Government of the United States will 
understand the necessity of adopting such measures and are destined 
to bring about a speedy end of the horrible and useless bloodshed. 
The Imperial Government hopes all the more for such an understand- 
ing of her position, as the neutrals have under the pressure of the 
Entente Powers, suffered great losses, being forced by them either to 
give up their entire trade or to limit it according to conditions arbi- 
trarily determined by Germany's enemies in violation of international 

[Inclosure 2] 


From February 1, 1917, all sea traffic will be stopped with every 
available weapon and without further notice in the following blockade 
zones around Great Britain, France, Italy and in the Eastern Mediter- 

In the North: The zone is confined by a line at a distance of 20 
sea miles along the Dutch coast to Terschelling fire ship, the degree of 
longitude from Terschelling fire ship to Utlsire, a line from there 
across the point 62 degrees north degrees longitude to 62 degrees 
north 5 degrees west, further to a point 3 sea miles south of the south- 
ern point of the Faroe Islands, from there across point 62 degrees 
north 10 degrees west to 61 degrees north 15 degrees west, then S7 
degrees north 20 degrees west to 47 degrees north 20 degrees west, 
further to 43 degrees north, 15 degrees west, then along the degree 
of latitude 43 degrees north to 20 sea miles from Cape Finisterre and 

gg PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

at a distance of 20 sea miles along the north coast of Spain to the 
French boundary. 

In the South: The Mediterranean 

For neutral ships remains open: The sea west of the line Pt. 
del'Espiquette to 38 degrees 20 minutes north and 6 degrees east, also 
north and west of a zone 61 sea miles wide along the north African 
coast, beginning at 2 degrees longitude west. For the connection of 
this sea zone with Greece there is provided a zone of a width of 20 
sea miles north and east of the following line: 38 degrees north and 
6 degrees east to 38 degrees north and 10 degrees east to 37 degrees 
north and 11 degrees 30 minutes east to 34 degrees north and 11 de- 
grees 30 minutes east to 34 degrees north and 22 degrees 30 minutes 

From there leads a zone 20 sea miles wide west of 22 degrees 30 
minutes eastern longitude into Greek territorial waters. 

Neutral ships navigating these blockade zones do so at their own 
risk. Although care has been taken, that neutral ships which are on 
their way toward ports of the blockade zones on February 1, 1917, 
and have come in the vicinity of the latter, will be spared during a 
sufficiently long period it is strongly advised to warn them with all 
available means in order to cause their return. 

Neutral ships which on February 1, are in ports of the blockaded 
zones, can, with the same safety, leave them if they sail before Febru- 
ary 5, 1917, and take the shortest route into safe waters. 

The instructions given to the commanders of German submarines 
provide for a sufficiently long period during which the safety of pas- 
sengers on unarmed enemy passenger ships is guaranteed. 

Americans, en route to the blockade zone on enemy freight steam- 
ers, are not endangered, as the enemy shipping firms can prevent such 
ships in time from entering the zone. 

Sailing of regular American passenger steamers may continue un- 
disturbed after February 1, 1917, if 

a) the port of destination is Falmouth 

b) sailing to or coming from that port course is taken via the Scilly 
Islands and a point 50 degrees north 20 degrees west, 

c) the steamers are marked in the following way which must not 
be allowed to other vessels in American ports: On ships' hull 
and superstructure 3 vertical stripes 1 meter wide each to be 
painted alternately white and red. Each mast should show a 
large flag checkered white and red, and the stern the American 
national flae. 


Care should be taken that, during dark, national flag and 
painted marks are easily recognizable from a distance and that 
the boats are well lighted throughout, 

d) one steamer a week sails in each direction with arrival at Fal- 
mouth on Sunday and departure from Falmouth on \\^ednes- 


e) The United States Government guarantees that no contraband 
(according to German contraband list) is carried by those 

President Wilson's Address to Both Houses of Congress in Joint 
Session, February 3, 1917' 

Gentlemen- of the Congress: The Imperial German Govern- 
ment on the thirty-first of January announced to this Government 
and to the governments of the other neutral nations that on and after 
the first day of February, the present month, it would adopt a policy 
with regard to the use of submarines against all shipping seeking to 
pass through certain designated areas of the high seas to which it is 
clearly my duty to call your attention. 

Let me remind the Congress that on the eighteenth of April last, 
in view of the sinking on the twenty-fourth of March of the cross- 
channel passenger steamer Sussex by a German submarine with- 
out summons or warning, and the consequent loss of the lives of 
several citizens of the United States who were passengers aboard 
her, this Government addressed a note to the Imperial German Gov- 
ernment in which it made the following declaration: 

'Tf it is still the purpose of the Imperial Government to prose- 
cute relentless and indiscriminate warfare against vessels of com- 
merce by the use of submarines without regard to what the Gov- 
ernment of the United States must consider the sacred and indisput- 
able rules of international law and the universally recognized dic- 
tates of humanity, the Government of the United States is at last 
forced to the conclusion that there is but one course it can pursue. 
Unless the Imperial Government should now immediately declare 
and effect an abandonment of its present methods of submarine war- 
fare against passenger and freight-carr)'ing vessels, the Government 
of the United States can have no choice but to sever diplomatic rela- 
tions with the German Empire altogether." 

^Congressional Record, February 3, 1917, p. 1917. 

90 PEACE PROPOSALS. 191^1917 

In reply to this declaration the Imperial German Government gave 
this Government the following assurance : 

"The German Government is prepared to do its utmost to con- 
fine the operations of war for the rest of its duration to the fighting 
forces of the belligerents, thereby also insuring the freedom of the 
seas, a .principle upon which the German Government believes, now 
as before, to be in agreement with the Government of the United 

"The German Government, guided by this idea, notifies the Gov- 
ernment of the United States that the German naval forces have re- 
ceived the following orders : In accordance with the general prin- 
ciples of visit and search and destruction of merchant vessels recog- 
nized by international law% such vessels, both within and without the 
area declared as naval war zone, shall not be sunk without warning 
and without saving human lives, unless these ships attempt to es- 
cape or offer resistance. 

"But," it added, "neutrals can not expect that Germany, forced 
to fight for her existence, shall, for the sake of neutral interest, 're- 
strict the use of an effective weapon if her enemy is permitted to con- 
tinue to apply at will methods of warfare violating the rules of in- 
ternational law. Such a demand would be incompatible with the 
character of neutrality, and the German Government is convinced 
that the Government of the United States does not think of making 
such a demand, knowing that the Government of the United States 
has repeatedly declared that it is determined to restore the principle 
of the freedom of the seas, from whatever quarter it has been violated." 

To this the Government of the United States replied on the eighth 
of May, accepting, of course, the assurances given, but adding, 

"The Government of the United States feels it necessary to state 
that it takes it for granted that the Imperial German Government 
does not intend to imply that the maintenance of its newly announced 
policy is in any way contingent upon the course or result of diplomatic 
negotiations between the Government of the United States and any 
other belligerent Government, notwithstanding the fact that certain 
passages in the Imperial Government's note of the 4th instant might 
appear to be susceptible of that construction. In order, however, to 
avoid any possible misunderstanding, the Government of the United 
States notifies the Imperial Government that it can not for a moment 
entertain, much less discuss, a suggestion that respect by German 
naval authorities for the rights of citizens of the United States upon 
the high seas should in any way or in the slightest degree be made 


contingent upon the conduct of any other Government affecting the 
rights of neutrals and non-combatants. Responsibihty in such mat- 
ters is single, not joint; absolute, not relative." 

To this note of the eighth of May the Imperial German Govern- 
ment made no reply. 

On the thirty-first of January, the Wednesday of the present week, 
the German Ambassador handed to the Secretary of State, along 
with a formal note, a memorandum which contains the following 
statement : 

"The Imperial Government, therefore, does not doubt that the 
Government of the United States will understand the situation thus 
forced upon Germany by the Entente Allies' brutal methods of war 
and by their determination to destroy the Central Powers, and that 
the Government of the United States will further realize that the 
now openly disclosed intentions of the Entente Allies give back to 
Germany the freedom of action which she reserved in her note ad- 
dressed to the Government of the United States on May 4, 1916." 

"Under these circumstances Germany will meet the illegal meas- 
ures of her enemies by forcibly preventing after February 1, 1917, 
in a zone around Great Britain, France, Italy, and in the Eastern 
Mediterranean all navigation, that of neutrals included, from and 
to England and from and to France, etc., etc. All ships met within 
the zone will be sunk." 

I think that you will agree with me that, in view of this declara- 
tion, which suddenly and without prior intimation of any kind delib- 
erately withdraws the solemn assurance given in the Imperial Gov- 
ernment's note of the fourth of May, 1916, this Government has no 
alternative consistent with the dignity and honour of the United 
States but to take the course which, in its note of the eighteenth of 
April, 1916, it announced that it would take in the event that the 
German Government did not declare and effect an abandonment of 
the methods of submarine warfare which it was then employing 
and to which it now purposes again to resort. 

I have, therefore, directed the Secretary of State to announce 
to His Excellency the German Ambassador that all diplomatic rela- 
tions between the United States and the German Empire are severed, 
and that the American Ambassador at Berlin will inmmediately be 
withdrawn ; and, in accordance with this decision, to hand to His 
Excellency his passports. 

Notwithstanding this unexpected action of the German Govern- 
ment, this sudden and deeply deplorable renunciation of its assur- 

92 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

ances, given this Government at one of the most critical moments 
of tension in the relations of the two governments, I refuse to be- 
lieve that it is the intention of the German authorities to do in fact 
what they have warned us they feel at liberty to do. I can not bring 
myself to believe that they will indeed pay no regard to the ancient 
friendship between their people and our own or to the solemn obli- 
gations which have been exchanged between them and destroy Amer- 
ican ships and take the lives of American citizens in the wilful prose- 
cution of the ruthless naval programme they have announced their 
intention to adopt. Only actual overt acts on their part can make me 
believe it even now. 

If this inveterate confidence on my part in the sobriety and pru- 
dent foresight of their purpose should unhappily prove unfounded ; 
if American ships and American lives should in fact be sacrificed by 
their naval commanders in heedless contravention of the just and 
reasonable understandings of international law and the obvious dic- 
tates of humanity, I shall take the liberty of coming again before 
the Congress, to ask that authority be given me to use any means that 
may be necessary for the protection of our seamen and our people in 
the prosecution of their peaceful and legitimate errands on the high 
seas. I can do nothing less. I take it for granted that all neutral 
governments will take the same course. 

We do not desire any hostile conflict with the Imperial German 
Governm.ent. We are the sincere friends of the German people and 
earnestly desire to remain at peace with the Government which speaks 
for them. We shall not believe that they are hostile to us unless and 
until we are obliged to believe it ; and we purpose nothing more than 
the reasonable defense of the undoubted rights of our people. We 
wish to serve no selfish ends We seek merely to stand true alike in 
thought and in action to the immemorial principles of our people 
which I sought to express in my address to the Senate only two weeks 
ago. — seek merely to vindicate our right to liberty and justice and 
an unmolested life. These are the bases of peace, not war. God 
grant we may not be challenged to defend them bv acts of wilful in- 
justice on the part of the Government of Gennanv! 


Severance of Diplomatic Relations between the United States and 
Germany, February 3, 1917 

The Secretary of State to the German Ambassador^ 

Department of State, 
Washington, February s, J-9J-7- 

Excellency : In acknowledging the note with accompanying mem- 
oranda, which you delivered into my hands on the afternoon of 
January 31st, and which announced the purpose of your Government 
as to the future conduct of submarine warfare, I would direct your 
attention to the following statements appearing in the correspondence 
which has passed between the Government of the United States 
and the Imperial German Government in regard to submarine warfare. 

This Government on April 18, 1916, in presenting the case of the 
Sussex, declared — 

"If it is still the purpose of the Imperial Government to prosecute 
relentless and indiscriminate warfare against vessels of commerce by 
the use of submarines without regard to what the Government of 
the United States must consider the sacred and indisputable rules of 
international law and the universally recognized dictates of humanity, 
the Government of the United States is at last forced to the con- 
clusion that there is but one course it can pursue. Unless the Im- 
perial Government should now immediately declare and effect an 
abandonment of its present methods of submarine warfare against 
passenger and freight-carrying vessels, the Government of the United 
States can have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the 
German Empire altogether." 

In reply to the note from which the above declaration is quoted 
Your Excellency's Government stated in a note dated May 4, 1916 — 

"The German Government, guided by this idea, notifies the Gov- 
ernment of the United States that the German naval forces have 
received the following orders : In accordance with the general prin- 
ciples of visit and search and destruction of merchant vessels recog- 
nized by international law, such vessels, both within and without the 
area declared as naval war zone, shall not be sunk without warning 
and without saving human lives, unless these ships attempt to es- 
cape or offer resistance.. 

"But neutrals can not expect that Germany, forced to fight for 
her existence, shall, for tlie sake of neutral interests, restrict the 
use of an effective weapon if lier enemy is permitted to continue to 

^Official print of the Department of State. 

94 PEACE PROPOSALS, 191^1917 

apply at will methods of warfare violating the rules of international 
law. Such a demand would be incompatible with the character of 
neutrality, and the German Government is convinced that the Gov- 
ernment of the United States does not think of making such a de- 
mand, knowing that the Government of the United States has re- 
peatedly declared that it is determined to restore the principle of 
the freedom of the seas, from whatever quarter it has been violated." 

To this reply this Government made answer on May 8, 1916, in 
the following language: 

"The Government of the United States feels it necessary to state 
that it takes it for granted that the Imperial German Government does 
not intend to imply that the maintenance of its newly announced 
policy is in any way contingent upon the course or result of diplomatic 
negotiations between the Government of the United States and any 
other belligerent Government, notwithstanding the fact that certain 
passages in the Imperial Government's note of the 4th instant might 
appear to be susceptible of that construction. In order, however, 
to avoid any possible misunderstanding, the Government of the United 
States notifies the Imperial Government that it can not for a 
moment entertain, much less discuss, a suggestion that respect by 
German naval authorities for the rights of citizens of the United 
States upon the high seas should in any way or in the slightest de- 
gree be made contingent upon the conduct of any other Government 
affecting the rights of neutrals and non-combatants. ResponsibiHty 
in such matters is single, not joint; absolute, not relative." 

To this Government's note of May 8th no reply was made by the 
Imperial Government. 

In one of the memoranda accompanying the note under acknowl- 
edgment, after reciting certain alleged illegal measures adopted by 
Germany's enemies, this statement appears : 

"The Imperial Government, therefore, does not doubt that the Gov- 
ernment of the United States will understand the situation thus forced 
upon Germany by the Entente Allies' brutal methods of war and by 
their determination to destroy the Central Powers, and that the 
Government of the United States will further realize that the now 
openly disclosed intentions of the Entente Allies give back to Ger- 
many the freedom of action which she .reserved in her note ad- 
dressed to the Government of the United States on May 4, 1916, 

"Under these circumstances Germany will meet the illegal meas- 
ures of her enemies by forcibly preventing, after February 1, 1917, 
in a zone around Great Britain, France, Italy, and in the eastern 


Mediterranean all navigation, that of neutrals included, from and 
to England and from and to France, etc., etc. All ships met within 
the zone will be sunk." 

In view of this declaration, which withdraws suddenly and with- 
out prior intimation the solemn assurance given in the Imperial Gov- 
ernment's note of May 4, 1916, this Government has no alternative 
consistent with the dignity and honor of the United States but to 
take the course which it explicitly announced in its note of April 18, 
1916, it would take in the event that the Imperial Government did not 
declare and effect an abandonment of the methods of submarine war- 
fare then employed and to which the Imperial Government now pur- 
pose again to resort. 

The President has, therefore, directed me to announce to Your Ex- 
cellency that all diplomatic relations between the United States and 
the German Empire are severed, and that the American ambassador 
at Berlin will be immediately withdrawn, and in accordance with 
such announcement to deliver to Your Excellency your passports. 
I have, etc., 

Robert Lansing. 

Instructions to American Diplomatic Representatives in Neutral 
Countries, February 4, 1917, regarding the Severance of Diplo- 
matic Relations between the United States and Germany^ 

You will immediately notify the Government to which you are ac- 
credited that the United States, because of the German Government's 
recent announcement of its intention to renew unrestricted submarine 
warfare, has no choice but to follow the course laid down in its note 
of April 18, 1916 (the Sussex note). 

It has, therefore, recalled the American Ambassador to Berlin and 
has delivered passports to the German Ambassador to the United States. 

Say, also, that the President is reluctant to believe Germany actually 
will carry out her threat against neutral commerce, but if it be done 
the President will ask Congress to authorize use of the national power 
to protect American citizens engaged in their peaceful and lawful er- 
rands on the seas. 

The course taken is, in the President's view, entirely in conformity 
with the principles he enunciated in his address to the Senate January 
12 (the address proposing a world league for peace). 

^Congressional Record, February 8, 1917, p. 3263. 

96 PEACE PROPOSALS, 1916-1917 

He believes it will make for the peace of the world if other neutral 
powers can find it possible to take similar action. 

Report fully and immediately on the reception of this announcement 
and upon the suggestion as to similar action. 

Senate Resolution of February 7, 1917, endorsing President Wilson's 
Action in severing Diplomatic Relations with Germany^ 

Whereas the President has, for the reasons stated in his address 
delivered to the Congress in joint session on February 3, 1917, severed 
diplomatic relations with the Imperial German Government by the 
recall of the American Ambassador at Berlin and by handing his 
passports to the German Ambassador at Washington ; and 

Whereas^ notwithstanding this severance of diplomatic intercourse, 
the President has expressed his desire to avoid conflict with the Im- 
perial German Government; and 

Whereas the President declared in his said address that if in his 
judgment occasion should arise for further action in the premises 
on the part of the Government of the United States he would submit 
the matter to the Congress and ask the authority of the Congress to 
use such means as he might deem necessary for the protection of 
American seamen and people in the prosecution of their peaceful 
and legitimate errands on the high seas : Therefore be it 

Resolved, That the Senate approves the action taken by the Presi- 
dent as set forth in his address delivered before the joint session of 
the Congress, as above stated. 

'^Congressional Record. February 7, 1917, p. 3046. 




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